The internet came together to stop SOPA, the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’, with Wikipedia, Google, and other major sites staging black outs and bulletins to raise public awareness of the imminent threat of legislation that would further erode any privacy we still have on the internet, and criminalizing activity you might not even realize you’re involved in.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill introduced by U.S Representative Lamar S Smith (R-TX) to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods. Provisions include the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the websites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the websites. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison. [ wikipedia ]
The solidarity of the internet coming together to remarkably enough sway Washington from passing the bill was good. It felt good at the time. That battle was won, but the government was never going to give up on this legislation. CISPA soon followed, but fortunately the denizens of the internet remained vigilant, and it was transparent that it was the same package with different wrapping.
Now CISPA Is Back Again
The congress is almost certainly going to slip this through, leaving only the Senate as the last means of defense. What hope do we have? Honestly, probably someone like Rand Paul, and when that’s our best hope, it’s a good indication of how far up shit’s creek we’ve come. There’s a few democrats who will speak out against CISPA, but the voice of a progressive democrat is weak to the ears of Obama and others in the halls of Washington in comparison to a Republican’s. Sad, with a ‘progressive’ President in place.
“The version of CISPA that passed out of Committee yesterday has several amendments that make it appear better on the surface, but do nothing to address the fundamental flaw with the bill, which is that it still allows massive amounts of private user data to be shared with secretive agencies,” he added. “It still provides sweeping legal protections for corporations that share our data.” [ techworld.com.au ]
It’s tough to continuously call in the cavalry on the same issue over and over again. The government can always introduce legislation buried in a bill too long and convoluted that it comes to light in the eleventh hour. In most cases the politicians voting on the bill haven’t even read it, they just know it’s on the agenda and it’s their job to pass it. One thing we can be sure of is whatever decision making processes that go through the vast majority of our representatives in the House and the Senate, they don’t have the best interest of the people in mind.
Consider this a war weary cry to internet arms. Spread the word, email or call a politician, sign a petition, or eat a double bacon cheeseburger. It seems that inevitably repressive legislation regarding our individual rights on the internet will fade away to the annals of history. But it’s a fight worth joining, no matter how many times we have to regroup.
At least there’s Alexis Obanian, co-founder of reddit, ever ready to help raise awareness and do what he can, for whatever that will be worth.