by Alma McCarty
Imagine logging onto your computer. You click the Firefox button and open your browser. You go to Google only to see that you cannot.
“Must be a mistake,” you think to yourself, “or maybe it’s this faulty connection.”
You start to silently curse the WiFi gods for this miniature disaster when you realize that SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, has been put into effect.
Google is a goner and Yahoo, too. And for the two people who actually use Bing, well there’s a solid chance that it’s cashed in its chips a little earlier than expected.
But why are these websites we hold so near and dear in a time of searching need suddenly censored? Because, as a search engine, Google contains links to other websites with potentially illegal material, such as pirated music and movies. This is something we all know already. Chances are, many of us have been to a few, even downloaded music for free. We’d like to think this is harmless, that one or two illegally downloaded items can’t hurt. We are so used to the fact that we have pretty much total freedom on the Internet to search and surf as much as we desire.
But flash-forward to a time where the Internet isn’t so wild and free: it’s a desolate, soulless, post-apocalyptic place with censored material everywhere.
SOPA, in partnership with its less worldly cousin PIPA, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, will hold serious power if passed by Congress. Long story short, these proposed bills would give legal power to sue search engines, censor websites, and shut down anything with a link to a link to illegal material.
Now, I’m not a huge techie but even I know this is bad. Potentially, some little kid in Middle-of-Nowhere, USA, could be sued by a major company because it is “copyright infringement.” Goodbye, YouTube.
Tonight, several websites including Wikipedia and Reddit are going on strike by blacking out, protesting SOPA and PIPA. Google will not go completely dark, but rather will post a protest link on the homepage.
Google is quoted in a Computerworld article stating “”Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet. So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page.”
Basically, the Internet companies are angered because the government will allegedly take control of the Internet; a monster, which the masses believed could not be tamed. Other companies just want copyrights to be accounted for, but this course of action seems too extreme for my taste.
Stealing is wrong, but isn’t there another way? What do you think?