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SOPA? So what?

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
18 January 2012

You must have heard by now about SOPA (the US Stop Online Piracy Act) which has the digital world in a lather.

Proponents of the bill say it will bring in much needed legislation to stop Internet piracy and that Google, among others, should play a key role in that enforcement.

Opposers say that this bill amounts to nothing less than internet censorship and effectively the prevention of freedom of speech, since it gives the US attorney general the power to completely censor access by its citizens to foreign sites that the US government doesn’t have jurisdiction to take down directly.

WikiLeaks is the most frequently given example by opposers of the bill. Under SOPA, American citizens” ISPs could be forced to block their individual access to Wikileaks. The concerns are that once the technical means to do this are in place, then it becomes very easy for this power to be extended.

All the ‘big’ internet names have joined together in a protest move against SOPA, Google are registering opposition with a ‘censored’ logo and a link on their homepage to more information, but that falls short of Reddit and Wikipedia, both of whom have gone ‘dark’ today. The SOPA issue has found the opposition very divided with how best to show their protest. Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo tweeted this week about the ‘go dark’ movement, “closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish.”.

As someone who sat in a hotel room in Shanghai not so very long ago trying to access the BBC website with a slowly dawning realisation that access was blocked to me in China (nothing like appreciating the impact of censorship by experiencing it yourself), I find myself firmly in the anti-SOPA camp.

I want my children to still enjoy a free and open Internet where information can be shared without censorship. I may not always like, or agree with, what they can access and read but I don’t want the decision taken on their, or my, behalf on what falls into the definition of ‘acceptable’. I believe SOPA would set a very frightening precedent for other similar legislation worldwide. If I wanted to live like my friends and colleagues in China I would move there, I place a high value on the freedoms I enjoy in the western world.

For that reason Tamar is supporting the anti-SOPA protests today and we encourage you to do so.



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