SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), a new bill drafted by the House of Representatives, might be putting companies like Google and Facebook in danger. Hearings on the bill began Wednesday, and already dozens of companies are campaigning to prevent the bill from becoming a law. Though the bill is supposed to protect the rights of film companies and music labels, is it internet censorship in disguise?
Some think that SOPA is a blatant violation of freedom of speech. Internet superpower companies like Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, eBay, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mozilla and Zynga Game Network all signed an open letter that said "the bill as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities." However, the companies "support the bill's stated goals," but think that the government could find better ways to fight copyright violations and counterfeiting.
GOP chairman Rep. Lamar Smith said the bill was "designed to promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes." He failed to address the enormous problems that it would cause, however. The government would just be allowed to order service providers to freely shut down websites, and extend the government's reach to search engines.
Another internet company, Tumblr, said that SOPA would "betray more than a decade of U.S. policy and advocacy of Internet freedom by...using the same domain blacklisting technologies pioneered by China and Iran." Those are pretty serious accusations, but they may not be far off. Are you against what some are calling "A Great Firewall of America?" Could this set Americans' right to freedom of speech back years?
Photo courtesy of Antonella Beccaria.