Two days ago, you might have noticed that some websites you normally use were down or just weren’t working correctly. This wasn’t a coincidence or a mere fluke. On January 18, over 7,000 reported websites shut down to protest legislation that threatens some of the fundamental internet freedoms we enjoy today. And these weren’t all small, fringe websites either. Maybe you’ve heard of Wikipedia. No? How about Google then? Yep. The big G. And when I say these websites were shut down – they literally went dark – total blackout in some cases. (Note: Google didn’t actually black out as they originally threatened)
This internet protest happened because of two pieces of legislation that are facing America today: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Those are really nice sounding names that instill faith in each bill’s terms, and who wouldn’t want to stop online piracy and protect those important IP addresses? But the makeup of these bills is much more sinister than their facades may reveal. These bills would deliberately take away many of the basic Internet freedoms we enjoy today, and would enable the government to regulate even more of this wonderful, currently-free tool. I won’t get into the details here (see references below for further reading), but the logical extreme of this type of legislation could easily turn into a nightmare for internet users.
Here’s a short infographic to give you an example of some of the end-user consequences if such legislation becomes law.
Note for my international readers: If this happens here in the USA, then it would set a global precedent and it may be coming to a neighborhood near you sooner than later.
Created by: Online University
The good news is that the protest did make an impact, and last I heard, at least six U.S. Senators changed their stance on the issue to stand with the people – including NH’s Kelly Ayotte, I might add. Live free or die, people. Live Free or Die (NH state motto) . That’s refreshing to hear, to say the least, but the fight is not over. These bills are still pending, and they could be back in the spotlight any minute, or quietly addressed in Congress without anyone knowing about it.
No, the Internet isn’t perfect, but if you like the way it is, for the most part, and don’t want to see it change exponentially, then I would urge you to contact your local representatives and strongly urge them to oppose these two bills. If you’ve never done that before, it’s not hard and takes no more time than sending an email.
If you’ll do that, you have my thanks. I want to keep bringing information to you, and that just wouldn’t be likely if these bills were signed into law.
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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach