Tomorrow sees one of the most pivotal pieces of internet legislation pass through the halls of power in Washington.
The ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) bill, combined with PROTECT IP Act, seeks to give the US Justice Department the power to force Internet Providers into blocking access to any website that is suspected of hosting or linking to copyrighted material.
Provision for ‘going after’ ‘disputed sites’ hosting companies; search engines that link to them; payment services that support them, and other ancillary services will also be granted through the act.
From YouTube to Wikipedia; if it’s accused then the lights go out.
And before those of us not in America become smug – it has consequences for us all given a significant portion of the internet’s hardware and hosting is location within the US. Should SOPA pass, as it is very likely to do so, the internet of the entire world will become policed by America.
The bill is backed by the MPAA, most major pharmaceutical companies, the American Federation of Musicians, the Screen Actors Guild, and a host more.
But despite the inevitability of the bill passing into statute, opposition is becoming more vocal ahead of the vote.
Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, and social-sharing site REddit both blacked out the logos of their hompages in protest at the bill.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia and a long list of other technology companies expressed concern over the bill in an open letter delivered to ranking members of the US congress.
…the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites. We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written…
The online campaign group Aavaz have an online petition which people from all over the world are invited to sign. It will be delivered to the US senate before the bill is voted on later this month.