Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Down With SOPA!

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), along with its companion bill Protect IP Act (PIPA), is currently being debated in Congress.  This bipartisan effort, ostensibly to fight internet piracy and counterfeit goods, has been mired in controversy since its inception.  While supporters (mainly those in the entertainment industry) hail it as a necessary step to take, opponents (most Internet users and virtually all of Silicon Valley) fear that it would amount to censorship of the Internet.

Regardless of how you feel about piracy (and counterfeiting), SOPA's vague language goes way beyond that.  It essentially creates a "Great Firewall of America" that would blacklist not only pirate sites, but potentially any site worldwide with user-created content if corporations claim that such content may have been pirated.  Internet service providers could be required to block IP addresses of certain sites and monitor Internet traffic, effectively making such sites disappear from the Web.  The potential for collateral damage (not to mention abuse) is enormous, and there are also security implications to consider.  Such a bill would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment's guaranteed right to freedom of speech.  Additionally, SOPA is unnecessary--there are other means to defeat the foreign and domestic "rogue sites" that are the primary targets, and one alternative bill (the OPEN Act) does so by cutting off funding to such sites (from ads and credit cards) without actually censoring the Internet or any part of it.

It should go without saying that the TSAP opposes this bill, which would chill the free exchange of ideas and essentially end the Internet as we know it.

UPDATE:  It appears that SOPA has been shelved by Congress for now.  And we hope it never rears its ugly head again.

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