What’s at stake and why should I care?
Rebecca MacKinnon’s recent editorial in the New York Times says it well:
“Compliance with the Stop Online Piracy Act would require huge overhead spending by Internet companies for staff and technologies dedicated to monitoring users and censoring any infringing material from being posted or transmitted. This in turn would create daunting financial burdens and legal risks for start-up companies, making it much harder for brilliant young entrepreneurs with limited resources to create small and innovative Internet companies that empower citizens and change the world.”
- Flaws and consequences include, but are not limited to:
- Compromising the DMCA safe harbors for online intermediaries
- Giving the government authority to block domains without due process
- Interfering with linking and search engines and the DNS, while not actually being effective
- Making uploading copyrighted content a felony, punishable by 5 years in prison
- Threatening jobs, innovation, speech, cybersecurity
- Undermining the U.S.’s ability to discourage repressive regimes abroad from censoring citizens
What can I do as an individual and as a company or organization?
Encourage all Internet users to contact their Representatives as soon as possible to voice their strong discontent with the bill. It is slated for markup this Thursday December 15, so concerns should ideally be voiced before Thursday. You can call and email your House Representative by visitingFightForTheFuture.org. They have a great web tool where you enter your zip code, are given talking points, and then are directly connected to your Representative. There are other useful tools on AmericanCensorship.org for websites to “censor” their sites and logos, to demonstrate the potential effects of this bill. You can also send people to IWorkforTheInternet.org to post pictures of themselves to show that the Internet has created jobs, and these jobs are threatened by this bill. You can share this post with any people or organizations and encourage them to act and spread the word as well!
What else should I know?
This is not the only option; there’s an alternative bill proposed entitled The OPEN Act. More info is available at www.KeeptheWebOpen.com. Also, the first round of anti-censorship advocacy was very successful, and generated millions of emails and thousands of calls, as this infographic shows. If you participated in that, participate again; if you didn’t participate, now’s the time. Come on “geek lobby,” #Don’tBreaktheInternet!