**UPDATE 1/16, 12:50 EST – (from the Examiner: In a surprise move today, Representative Eric Cantor(R-VA) announced that he will stop all action on SOPA, effectively killing the bill. This move was most likely due to several things. One of those things is that SOPA and PIPA met huge online protest against the bills.”
Please note however that the fight is not over, as PIPA, the Senate’s version of SOPA, is still being discussed.
THE THING YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND is that the Internet is ours. Yours and mine. It’s the most democratized system for communication that mankind has ever created. While each constituent network develops its own standards (ex: China’s sophisticated Internet censorship, aka “The Great Firewall of China”), there is no centralized governance. Nobody has figured out (yet) how to own it or fully control it.
This is the core issue, the fundamental reason for rejecting SOPA.
Inform yourself on what the bill — to be voted on in late January — could mean in terms of specific:
- Threats to online freedom of speech
- Threats to dissident communication in autocratic countries
- Negative impacts on websites that host user content
- General threat to web-related businesses
- Threats to users uploading content
- Threats to internal network security
- Threats to free and open source software / technology development
or check out the stupefying history of the bill’s development, including:
- Technology experts (including the engineers responsible for creating the internet) and business leaders being totally shut out from the bill’s formative process
- Bill sponsors receiving four times the amount of entertainment industry contributions as Internet and tech
- Bill sponsors demonstrating a complete lack of even the most basic understanding of how the Internet works during SOPA’s preliminary hearings
Or, don’t worry about it. All you have to really understand is that if passed, SOPA will mean that the US, specifically the US Department of Justice, effectively claims control of the Internet. It will no longer be yours and mine. The bill gives the justice department the power to blacklist / shutdown any site in the world without due process.
The bottom line for supporters of SOPA is that Big Content — media conglomerates like Viacom and Hollywood studios — along with strange bedfellows Big Pharma (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) would be able to maximize profit-making. Everyone else loses. Here’s writer and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow putting it perfectly:
Big Content haven’t just declared war on Boing Boing and Reddit and the rest of the “fun” Internet: they’ve declared war on every person who uses the net to publicize police brutality, every oppressed person in the Arab Spring who used the net to organize protests and publicize the blood spilled by their oppressors, every abused kid who used the net to reveal her father as a brutalizer of children, every gay kid who used the net to discover that life is worth living despite the torment she’s experiencing, every grassroots political campaigner who uses the net to make her community a better place — as well as the scientists who collaborate online, the rescue workers who coordinate online, the makers who trade tips online, the people with rare diseases who support each other online, and the independent creators who use the Internet to earn their livings.
On January 18th, Matador will join Reddit, Boing Boing, and thousands of other sites which will “black out” in protest of SOPA. Please inform yourself about SOPA, including what you can do to stop it. Here’s a guide on how to black out your own site. Please help by sharing this link, this information, this conversation with friends and family. And, most importantly, here’s information on how to take this fight to town meetings and state by state forums across the US.