What happens when you combine an overzealous drive to fight Internet piracy, with elected representatives who don’t know the difference between DNS, IM, and MP3? You get SOPA--draconian legislation that far exceeds its intended scope, and threatens the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens. And it may just pass.
An open letter to Congress written by luminaries of the Internet, such as Vint Cerf--co-designer of TCP/IP, and Robert W. Taylor--founder of ARPAnet among others, implores Congress to back off and squash both SOPA, and its sibling PIPA legislation. The letter states, “If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure.”
The letter goes on to ominously caution Congress. “If the US begins to use its central position in the network for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.”
Paul Tassi, a sometimes writer for Forbes, makes his primary living from a website he co-founded. Unreality.com is a movie, TV, and gaming review site—a site that relies on linking to clips and screen captures of movies, TV shows, and video games.
Tassi pleads, “The internet is my life now. It’s how I pay my rent and it’s how I’ll support my future family. By passing a law that turns me and millions of others into copyright criminals, there’s no way to sink the economy faster than by shackling the one industry that has more innovation and growth than any other.”
You only really need to know one thing about SOPA to realize that it’s bad legislation that must be stopped: it is supported (and probably written) by the RIAA and MPAA. These organizations are like crotchety old men yelling at the neighbor kids to get off their lawn. But, in this case their "lawn" is the Internet, and instead of "yelling" they’re threatening to fill it with landmines that effectively make it useless.
It is almost 2012. It has been nearly 30 years since services like Prodigy and America Online introduced the mainstream world to the Internet. It has been almost 20 years since Netscape came on the scene, and the Web took the world by storm. It is no longer tolerable for an elected representative to be clueless about how the Internet works. It’s just not acceptable.
If the bill passes, it could have devastating, cascading consequences that ripple across the Internet and affect the freedom and civil liberties of every citizen of the United States. It seems our current elected representatives may just be dumb and/or crazy enough to pass it, though—so speak up and let your representative and senators know what you think of SOPA.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.