As most regular readers know, I’m not a political person.
I don’t bring politics on this blog because I find that it’s one of the most explosive and one-sided topics out there. By one-sided, I mean this: The person making the argument is going to be right. His or her opponents are going to be right. Why is everyone right? Because the majority of the time, there’s not going to be any bending. People have their beliefs and usually they won’t be swayed.
So I avoid it.
But the blackout that happened with some Internet sites yesterday — Wikipedia had a full blackout of its English language site — to oppose legislation being considered in the U.S. Congress was an admirable gesture.
Did it work?
Only time will tell. What is being opposed are two pieces of legislation that could censor parts of the Internet. It’s being backed by the entertainment industry, which is screaming for this as a way to stop online piracy.
Wikipedia did post some startling statistics and notes from the day of the blackout. It’s worth a read. Check it out here. (There’s a ton of interesting things there, but one thing that stood out to me? More than 162 million saw the Wikipedia blackout page, according to Wikipedia).
The two bills — and maybe you’ve heard of them or seen these being talked about online — are SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act). Wikipedia also gives you two links where you can track the progress of the bills through GovTrack — SOPA and PIPA.
I can’t even begin to say I could explain these whole acts. Click the links above and they will take you to the Wikipedia page explaining each act. I’ve read a lot and don’t know if I can grasp it all, but I know this much — we should try and see what’s going on here because the future of the Internet as we know it could be on the line.
Look, I don’t agree with online piracy. I realize it needs to stop. But to have these pieces of legislation pass through — with vague writing and everything else — could possibly give too much power to people in the government and elsewhere. The normal Joe — Joe Plumber — could go to jail or be sued for something extremely small.
It could, essentially, be crippling.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at all of this. I’m not sure I even fully understand it. But there are some great things out there for people to read to try and get a grasp on what this legislation is actually about.
Do you realize that parts of these bills could mean if you sing an artist’s song, record it and put it on YouTube that you could go to jail?
I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber. But he got his start doing this very thing. Find out more info about the bills and hear Bieber’s response to all of this at the website freebieber.org.
One thing is for sure — I don’t need the people in Washington deciding how I use the Internet. Or how I get information. Or if I want to put a family video up with a song playing in the background. I’m not trying to make money off it. Leave it be.
As a journalist, I am a firm believer in the constitution and what it stands for. It seems those in Washington who support this bill might not believe in it so much. This is the reality — there are a bunch of an older generation in Washington getting ready to vote on a bill that could hamper the growth of technology and the Internet for future generations. I don’t think that should happen, personally.
That small group will decide this.
Speak up, America.
Here’s a very good video about these bills and what it could mean to all of us, from fightforthefuture.org:
If you follow the link to their website, you can also write congress directly from there and voice your opinion about these bills.
All I ask is that you see what these bills are all about. Speak your mind. Tell your congress people what you think. This is our future. The future of the upcoming generations.
Remember that genius comes from the craziest places. There are some phenomenal internet-based companies that could be shut down or sued because of these bills. Blogs could come under fire for sharing content. Sites people love — YouTube, Facebook etc. — could all get into trouble for having things that are protected. Users could get in trouble.
The Internet as we know it could be done.
Please read some stuff about it. Get educated. Sign the petition if you are against it. But make sure your voice is heard.
The future of the Internet could be in danger, so get your say in while you have the chance.
Google has a lot of information about these bills. This could be a good place to start (and there’s even a place to sign a petition there): End Piracy, Not Liberty.
My final plea is to take a stand against censorship. Do your part. This goes beyond politics. This goes beyond partisan thinking. This is life. Life as we know it. Don’t let the future be dictated by the few people in Washington who are more worried about the bigwigs in the Entertainment industry and their lobbyists.
Speak up before it’s too late.
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