We’re only a few more hours away from embracing 2012, but celebrations of the new year will be greatly marred. On the 24th of January the U.S. Senate will vote on the Protect IP Copyright Bill. This bill in conjunction with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) will greatly censor your internet freedom.
The Protect IP Copyright Bill is already infamous among technologists and is being referred to as a death penalty for websites. This Bill will give the power to the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders on allegedly infringing websites. Thus effectively removing them from search engines and, the internet. Innocent websites may also be caught up in this mess and effectively removed for no reason.
This Bill has already been scrutanised by various security specialists and analysts at the forefront of their fields. All of who have predicted that this bill has the possibility of threatening online speech, weakening internet security and hampering internet innovation.
Aside from this Bill, SOPA is the most dangerous act for us internet users. This act can greatly affect those of us outside of the U.S. If any internet content is under the slightest suspicion of infringing copyright laws, it can be removed. To understand there is already a real world example, but firstly you must know that the IP Bill and SOPA are both endorsed by the entertainment industry and the US Chamber of Commerce as well as others. For us that translates to corporations. So on the 29th of November, MegaUpload branded a “piracy site” was unavailable worldwide due to a DNS take down effect (similar to what the IP Bill is capable of and more). Multiple artists like Snoop Dog, Kanye West and P. Diddy decided to compile a song to help MegaUpload and released it to Youtube. The scary thing about this and why I bolded “it can be removed” is that Universal Music accused this song of copyright infringement and forced its removal from Youtube. But the truth is, it contained no intellectual property of Universal Music nor anything owned by Universal Music at all and yet it was still removed with no need of a legitimate reason or evidence.
It was removed based solely on the reason that Universal Music did not like what they were doing, and wished to prevent awareness to MegaUpload and what was going on. This can easily be translated to anything. If you have and idea you wish raise awareness of, and a multimillion dollar company doesn’t like your idea. You can be taken down. This means blogs, Twitter accounts, or even Facebook accounts, posting, articles anything and everything on the internet can be effectively removed if a corporation does not like it.
The good news is that this Bill and Act is only going to be effective in the US. The bad news is that, it does have the capacity to affect those of us outside of the US. Voting for something of this magnitude should not be isolated to only the US, it will affect millions of people all over the world and should be put to an international vote. Unfortunately it is not, therefore we need to make our voices heard and take a stand.
If you’re still unsure about the Protected IP Bill or SOPA please just watch this video and then make up your mind. If you aren’t, sign this petition and let your voice be heard (you don’t need to be American): http://americancensorship.org/