I realized today that there are people who are still unaware of the SOPA and PIPA acts currently trying to make their way through Congress. While it’s hard for me to imagine, apparently there are people who still just watch CNN and so have no idea this exists. To those people, here’s the moral of the story: government does scary things when you are not watching.
People far better at this sort of thing have said everything there is today in all sorts of ways, so rather than discuss the details of what this will do and why you should care, here are some of the more excellent sources I’ve seen:
- Jason Harvey (of reddit.com) gives a technical examination
- TotalBiscuit – WTF is SOPA?
- Fight for the Future – PIPA/SOPA breaks the internet
- EFF – How SOPA/PIPA violates free speech
Now let me tell you why I care.
I believe that the internet is probably the single most game-changing invention in the last hundred years – maybe more. It’s radically changed the way human beings interact with each other, given humanity new access to information and communication that was before undreamed of. The last time there was a game-changer this big, it was Gutenberg and his printing press allowing people access to literature they’d never dreamed of.
Like the DMCA before them, SOPA and PIPA seek to give the American government more and more power and control over what can and cannot happen on the internet. It’s done in the name of “fairness” and “copyright” (an abused term unto itself!) and the phrasing is so poor and permissive you’d think they were trying to upset anyone who’d read the bill. It was written by lobbyists for organizations like the RIAA and MPAA, whose histories show them to be firmly entrenched against progress or free speech, and more than willing to use outright lies to extend their spheres of influence. SOPA and PIPA are two sides of the same ugly coin, and as long as people remain unaware of what is going on, politicians will keep grabbing at power in this arena, because the lobbyists are paying them well to do so.
I have yet to meet someone, even trolls on internet forums, who think SOPA is a good idea. The closest thing I’ve heard to support from anyone outside Washington is, “I hope it will pass so that people get pissed off enough to start a revolution.” I’m a pessimist when it comes to politics, but I don’t want a bloody revolution. I’m not even looking for a candidate to make things better at this point – I’ll gladly settle for someone who won’t make things worse. Stopping SOPA and PIPA are part of that agenda, for me.
For the record, Gingrich and Paul both oppose SOPA. Romney and Santorum both have given wishy-washy non-answers when asked about it.