SOPA and PIPA are two bills milling around United States congress right now, and if they are signed into law the internet as the world knows it could be significantly altered for the worse. Understanding the bills can be difficult, but basically they will harm internet innovation by shutting down sites that are user driven, censor and blacklist popular U.S. websites, and generally kill new sites like YouTube and Wikileaks. If that sounds bad, take a look at the various ways in which these bills could affect users of American websites.
The U.S. President and his administration have stated that they “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity [sic] risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” That said, President Obama has not yet promised to veto the bills should they pass through the house and senate, a move that could effectively stifle many supporters of the bills. Recently scandalized media titan Rupert Murdoch responded by Tweeting: “Nonsense argument about danger to Internet. How about Google, others blocking porn, hate speech, etc? Internet hurt?” Perhaps it is no surprise that Murdoch would side with entertainment companies like the MPAA and the RIAA, but what may be more surprising is congress’ broad approval of the bill.
So how has the internet reacted to these bills? In protest of the bills’ egregious goals, sites like Reddit, Wikipedia (English), Google, Mozilla, and hundreds of other sites have gone dark today or otherwise joined ranks to stop them. American citizens are urged to contact their representatives and tell them to get their act together before it’s too late, and non-American users of these sites are asked to learn and share as much about these bills as they can. Who knows how many other countries might adopt similar policies? With so many internet supporters, it will be interesting to see how U.S. politicians react to their constituent’s anger.