Today, 18th January 2012, several large online entities have taken their sites offline for 12 hours. These include:
- Google – although they haven’t taken their site offline, they have added a link to an informational page to their home page for American users
- and many, many, many more
But why? Well, US Congress is currently trying to pass two Bills, H.R.3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act” and S.968 “PROTECT IP Act”. These bills, whilst their intention to prevent online piracy is admirable, the effect they’ll actually have is far from it. It’s basically Censorship for the Americans’ internet connections. The Government will block known pirate sites to prevent access, but I bet it won’t stop there.
Imagine if a site appears on the ‘net showing someone’s point of view on a particular topic, which is the whole idea behind the internet, free speech! If the US Government decides it doesn’t like what the site is saying, what’s to stop them from censoring that site too? Where will the censorship stop, will it even stop? I see this as a snowball falling down a mountain, once it starts it’ll just get bigger and never stop until it’s got nowhere else to go; or in this case, there aren’t any more sites to censor.
“But wait”, you say, “This is the US and I live in the UK. Why do I care?”. Think about it, how many times in the past has the US introduced something and the UK has followed suit? The answer is loads. So what’s to say anything will be different this time? I’m pretty certain that if this goes though in Congress, it’ll only be a matter of time before the UK Government does something similar.
“OK, I see your point. But what can I do about it in the UK?”, you can petition the state department. They speak out about internet censorship in other countries, so why not their own? Sign the petition and get their attention.
You can find out more about this topic at these sites:
- Information on H.R.3261 – Stop Online Privacy Act
- Information on S.968 – PROTECT IP Act
- SOPAOpera.org – Keeps track of where the congress members stand
- Complete list of sites taking part in the Blackout
- Take Action and Petition US State Department