SOPA - A Step in Destroying Democracy

By John ServaisOn Jan 19, 2012 went black for Wednesday, Jan 18, as a protest against proposed legislation, SOPA and PIPA, and also to raise awareness of this important and terrible issue among citizens. If enacted, liberty, freedom of speech, and public dialog may well disappear within a few years. - John Servais, publisher

SOPA - Stop Online Piracy Act - proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives

PIPA - Protect IP Act - proposed in the U.S. Senate and pretty much the same

These two bills, if enacted, will dramatically change how the Internet will operate. Those who understand the Internet feel this change will lead to the destruction of many of our freedoms. Many websites - led by Wikipedia - have gone dark for today, Wednesday. Here is my take - and I will add links to other sites with info. It is important to keep in mind that these proposals could be passed by Congress - and Obama has signed other legislation that he does not like. So…

When you request an internet page from your computer, the request is encoded and goes to the server - which then sends the page back to your computer. Planned and current enhancements are for that request and response to be encrypted so no one else - not even the Feds - knows what you are reading or doing. This is no different from buying a book, newspaper or magazine for cash and reading it; it's no ones business but yours. A basis of democracy.

SOPA and PIPA would allow not only the request and response to be stopped and checked by the Internet services, it would also require them to inspect what you are receiving. If you are getting supposedly copyrighted material from anyone other than the owner of the material, this information would be passed to the government. Further, all websites would be forbidden to link to any site with info that is not ensured to be legally theirs. Thus, Google and Wikipedia would disappear or not be as useful as they are now.

Why? All because the MPAA - the Hollywood movie industry - wants to stop piracy of movies on the Internet. They have funded the current chair of a congressional committee from Austin, Texas, Lamar Smith, a Republican. Smith has a political problem and wants the movie industry money so he can be reelected to Congress next fall. So Hollywood has written the SOPA and he is pushing it. A somewhat similar scenario is taking place in the Senate with Patrick Leahy, a Democratic Senator.

Basically, this is gross overkill, like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. If this legislation passes, websites like NWCitizen will be very hard to find on the Internet. NWCitizen is one of the sites where everything is original content - fully and legally owned by the writers and me. But how does Google know that? They don't, and because they don't know, they will run a risk even linking to NWCitizen. Of course they will be allowed to link to major media sites. Go ahead, keep thinking about this.

Whether we are conservative or liberal, this scenario is one where our Democratic Republic will succumb and turn into a police state - tyranny. Give the tools - the laws - to government and it will use and abuse those powers. There are no historical exceptions to this. Our United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights have already been eroded the past ten years. SOPA or PIPA will erode them much further. It is a sad fact that our U.S. Congress would even consider such legislation.

Here is a link to Wikipedia, where you can learn more. Wikipedia

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is reputable and is in the lead in fighting to prevent such anti-constitutional legislation.

What we can each do is contact our Congressional representatives. For the Washington 2nd District, we have:

Congressman Rick Larsen At 5 pm, Rick had a mild statement posted in opposition to SOPA and PIPA "in their current forms." His message focuses more on property rights than civic rights.

Senator Patty Murray Her website has been down or uber slow all day. Her Everett and DC offices provide only recorded message. The Everett phone message box is full and so you cannot leave a message. Her DC phone is 202 224-2621 and her Everett phone is 425 259-6515. Sen. Murray is simply not available to us. Sad.

Senator Maria Cantwell She is now sponsoring another bill to stop online piracy. Contrary to an earlier comment here, I think we need to learn more about this bill.

Perhaps ask them to speak out against in a manner that can be heard by all.

Related Links

About John Servais

Writers • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John is super cool, and knows more about the news and internet-news business than just about any other guy around. He runs this website, and keeps an eye on everything. Read some of his articles, and let him know what you think.

Comments by Readers

John Servais

Jan 19, 2012

Texas congressman Lamar Smith, the prime sponsor of SOPA, made a quick change in his website today.  It used a copyrighted photo as a background for a portrait of himself.  He swapped it out for a gray background.  His website would have qualified for prosecution under his SOPA legislation.

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