Legislation aims to chain cyberspace

Dennis Gosnell, Assignment Editor

Power hungry politicians start off the year with a slap in the face

At the end of last semester we published an article about legislation aimed at changing the fabric of the U.S. and the Internet. Why should the beginning of this year be any different? Legislators in the U.S. Capitol have once again shocked many of their constituents by attempting to pass outrageous and unconstitutional laws to prohibit the flow of information within the Internet. The absurd rationale within the confines of the congressional halls is astounding and perplexing. Are they working for the people or for themselves?

SOPA/PIPA it’s more than just a name

The most recent attempts to seize control of the Internet happened with the introduction of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act of 2011) bills. These bills would essentially disallow anyone from viewing, linking to or otherwise using other website information (both foreign and domestic) as a resource in their own website because of conflicting issues of copyright legality.

These bills would affect websites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Wikipedia and YouTube. While this is troubling, the greater problem lies with the subtle threat it poses. Schools across the country use other websites and their information as resources to help in educating students of all grade levels.

What Representative Lamar Smith had to say

“Current law protects the rights of American innovators by prohibiting the illegal sale and distribution of their products by domestic websites. But there is no equivalent protection for American companies from foreign online criminals who steal and sell American goods to consumers around the world. Congress must address the widespread problem of online theft of America’s technology and products from foreign thieves.” – Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, said in defense of SOPA.

Those who oppose the bills ratification, Is it another NDAA?

Those who oppose SOPA and PIPA ratification take issue with the vague language of the bill. It seems innocent enough, but like the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012) people could be targeted without cause or reason and subjugated to jail time and major court hearings.

Like a hydra, the more heads you cut off a bill the more heads there will be to take their place. Even though the SOPA bill has been temporarily shelved, PIPA is still before the Senate. Like any other freedom, Internet freedom can only be maintained by being vigilant. That requires recognizing and stopping anything that seeks to infringe or restrict those freedoms.

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