Update: The web censorship bills have been shelved for now, but as Marco Ament writes, they will no doubt return in this or some other form — unless there is an aggressive push for campaign finance reform in the US. How us non-Americans can push for respect for the autonomy of our own laws, however, is another matter…
Yesterday, this site went dark as part of a worldwide protest at the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act which, if passed by the United States Congress, would give the US government and the entertainment industry extraordinary powers to control what is supposed to be a neutral space, effectively censoring the internet for everyone in the world. That’s right: everyone in the world.
To put it simply, this is bad legislation being pushed hard by corporate interests for their own benefit alone, and written so broadly that it sets us all down a path we don’t want to be travelling by.
I care about art, about creativity, about innovation — and about all these things being in the hands of artists, creators and innovators, not mishandled or stifled by corporations whose first responsibility is to make profit for shareholders.
Moreover, as someone who is not American, living in a country that is not the United States, the prospect and the precedent of another country passing laws that will have far-reaching consequences for me and the rest of the world — regardless of the laws governing my country and others’ countries — gives me the chills.
(Especially when they’re backronyms. I mean, really? When lawmakers are starting from the sexy buzzword then working backwards, you know things are messed up.)
- A SOPA/PIPA Blackout Explainer / Wired’s Threat Level blog lays it all out in point-by-point form.
- Stop Sopa or the web really will go dark / Dan Gillmor (of We the Media fame) makes the case in The Guardian for net neutrality and electronic freedom (be sure also to check The Guardian’s SOPA page).
- Why SOPA and PIPA Must Die / Waxy.org’s Andy Baio on his personal reasons for opposing the web censorship bills. Also: Matt Haughey outlines how they could be used to silence important web resources such as MetaFilter with a chilling story.
A previous version of this entry was published on Tue 17 Jan 2012.