The internet; in the history of the known world, never has there been a medium that has allowed as broad, simple, and free access to near infinite amounts of information. Now the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, has many large and influential websites such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, eBay, and Yahoo claiming that their first amendment rights are in serious jeopardy.
This issue is an important one the United States, as well as to the rest of the world, as its implications would greatly affect and likely hinder arguably the most functional aspect of life; the internet. SOPA’s objective is valiant and self described; Stop Online Piracy. To an internet novice, or someone without a proper understanding of this act, the Stop Online Piracy Act seems logical. Considering the depth of piracy on the internet, however, this goal is all but unachievable--especially without leaving an immense and detrimental wake.
The groundwork of SOPA is intended to eliminate websites hosted in other countries and directed towards the United States that might be used for or connected in any way to piracy, or “rogue websites.” Therefore, if any information or media is shared on a particular website that may, somewhere down the line, have been pirated, that information, as well as everything on the website is subject to removal from the internet by the United States government. The problem is the damage this bill, which intends to thwart piracy, but seemingly advocated government censorship, will cause to the architecture of the internet.
Currently the internet is a metaphorical land without borders. As long as they have an internet connection, people from anywhere on the globe can share and enjoy information with people in any other part of the world. The internet connects people that otherwise would never have the chance to come together. Under SOPA, however, search results, ads, blogs, audio tracks, pictures, videos, public information, and entire websites will be censored based simply on an “infringement claim,” and access to the rogue sites will be blocked by the United States government, although the sites will still exist.
This presents a clear kink in the free flow of information, an immense obstacle for websites promoting the spread and sharing of existing information (i.e. youtube, facebook, reddit.), and a wrongful elimination of many markets offering a legal exchange of goods and services, not to mention a blatant disregard for the first amendment.
The internet is the world’s largest port of free speech, censoring it in the name of a war on piracy to many people seems unjustifiable. It's no wonder that a plethora of relevant websites, which host immense amounts of information, including Wikipedia and reddit, recently went black for one day to advocate the elimination of the Stop Online Piracy Act. Apparently the move opened up the eyes of many Congressmen and women, as support for the act has plummeted and SOPA is temporarily on the shelf.
Upon reviewing the likelihood of SOPA reaching its objective, as well as the consequences the act would leave behind regardless, anyone with knowledge about the internet and modern technology, or an understanding of the rights of American people can understand that this act will senselessly regress technology and knowledge in the United States, and the entire world.