Online Black Out: 5 Reasons You Should Support It
Important protest stands opposed to Internet censorship; White House opposed, too
The protest against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) will have its day on Wednesday, as a host of popular websites including Wikipedia, Reddit, Wordpress, Twitpic, Mozilla and Major League Gaming will black protesting the largely unpopular legislation, which opponents believe will change the openness of the web and create a precedent for wide censorship.
The Obama administration Monday issued its most pointed remarks at the proposed legislation.
“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
"Any provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks, payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage start-up businesses and innovative firms from growing.”
If President Obama isn't 100% sold on the Act, we need to take a closer look. Loop 21 has outlines the reason why you should be concerned about the censorship of the internet.
1. Uhh, What About Jobs?
The mere number of sites joining the black out -- Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing, Wordpress, Twitpic, Mozilla, The Cheezeburger Network, Major League Gaming and many more -- illustrate how important the legislation is and how such drastic changes could affect thousands of jobs. That’s certainly not in the interests of American business or businesses abroad.
“Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small,” the White House statement read.
2. Hollywood is Misguided (or Lazy)
The movie and music industries are trying to protect short-term profits with the legislation. But in reality, the movie industry pulled in a cool $87 billion, with a fraction of that number coming from digital and online subscriptions and downloads.
Whether Hollywood is being greedy is a matter of interpretation, but most experts say that their efforts are a bit misguided.
“What the music and movie industry should be doing in Washington is promoting legislation to adapt copyright law to new technology — and then leading the transition to the new platforms,” wrote renowned Silicon Valley start-up director Steve Blank, who says the onus falls on Hollywood to build support behind balanced reforms and not, essentially, do what basically amounts to a wrestler coming off the top rope.
3. The Recession has Brought with it New Challenges
We all experienced the economic downturn in some way. Very few Americans had to do little to no belt-tightening at all. For many young Americans the first thing to go as budgets shrank was cable, music, movies and other forms of entertainment. Sites made it easier to share music, movies and television, which all experienced a resurgence in quality over the past few years. It, at least in part, falls on Hollywood and the music industry to realize these changes an adjust their practices -- even in the face of morbidly absurd profit margins.
4. Freedom of Information is a Fundamental Right
Is it just us or do backers of SOPA and other anti-piracy legislation seem to be operating with a 20th century worldview? Did the Internet so drastically change the way in which media is disseminated and shared that the old guard, seeking to protect big-money interests, not realize that the Web ushered in an era where a free, uninhibited flow of information had long become the norm?
If there’s anything that the drastic nature of the blackout will teach us, it’s that not having access to Wikipedia and other sites is undemocratic blockage of information -- censorship in its highest form -- recalls an age of misinformation, of intellectual darkness.
5. Do You Want to Get Arrested for Being Online?
Do we really want people going to jail over the Internet? Do we want to be ideologically, or worse, politically viewed as, say, China?
Or how about Iran?
In countries where parts of the internet are blocked there are citizens that risk their freedom to crack codes and firewalls. In some cases they are arrested and imprisoned for years.
African Americans are more likely than whites to access the Internet by mobile phone, and they are twice as likely to use Twitter. This means, if the SOPA is passed a higher percentage of Black and Hispanic people will be penalized.
Aren't we already going to jail for more asinine things?