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SOPA: A Step Back for Internet Freedom

Published on Dec 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm in Tech Trends.

SOPA protest

If you haven’t already heard, there’s a new internet blacklist bill working its way through Congress that, in my opinion, will break the internet permanently and irreparably if it passes.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would allow government-mandated DNS filtering, which basically means you won’t be able to access a site through a search engine or by using the domain name; rather you’ll have to go through the site’s IP address.

A site may be targeted for DNS filtering if its accused of hosting copyrighted content, or even linking to copyrighted material. Private companies could sue websites that they feel are in violation of their copyrights, in an attempt to bar users from visiting these sites.

This would arguably put all social media and user-generated content sites in jeopardy of suit. Affecting big names like Tumblr and YouTube, but more importantly, it could pummel new internet startups in the social and online search space. The threat of litigation alone could shut down internet startups and small businesses that are trying to innovate, which would transform the internet from a free, open space to a regulated and censored medium.

Passing SOPA would damage legitimate online startups, while pushing illegal sites further underground and offshore. Furthermore, the United States already has online infringement laws that work pretty well. SOPA employs the same tactics that counties like China and Iran use to censor the internet. Do we really want to have these countries as models?

It’s scary to think that the future of the internet lies not with these startups and businesses, but with members of Congress, some of whom don’t really understand what the internet is and how it works. (internet tubes, anyone?)

If you want to learn more about this bill, and I hope you do, check out the link below to view a great video that explains the Protect IP Act (the Senate version of SOPA) in detail.

Protect IP Act Breaks the Internet

 

Photo by Aporvearyan (Own work) GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons