It’s Time to Occupy The Internet

  Two new bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), are being brought to Congress very soon, and they…

Two new bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), are being brought to Congress very soon, and they could have a major impact on how we all use the Internet. These new bills would allow for far more government input on what’s available on the Internet, and, in turn, could quickly shut down websites that are even accused of copyright infringement. With the new bills, streaming sites like YouTube would have to work even harder to monitor what videos are on the site to appease the government, and people that stream certain content could be sent to jail. The House of Representatives will be voting on this bill today Thursday, December 15, and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said it will be the first item the Senate votes on after their break for the holidays. If the voting progresses like the bill’s advocates are hoping, it could become law very quickly. But the people who make their living on the Internet aren’t going down without a fight. Seth Bannon from Amicus and Aaron Swartz from Demand Progress (and one of the founders of Reddit) are leading the charge to stop this bill before it hurts the Internet and the people that rely on it for their livelihood.

Bannon and Swartz, who spoke at General Assembly (Fueled’s Home) about this issue on Tuesday, have launched, which encourages people to take action to oppose this bill. On the site, people can read the details of the bill, as well as see a long list of the people that would be effected by the bill’s passing. People can also either call or email their representative in Congress to tell them how important it is that this bill doesn’t pass. Swartz’s Demand Progress has also launched, which is also fighting for the same cause. On this site, people can fill out a petition against the bill, and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is willing to take this petition even further. When this bill comes up for a vote, Wyden has said that he’s willing to filibuster in order to block it. While many filibusters turn into meaningless babbling, Senator Wyden will read each of the names on this petition in order to show the outcry of support against this bill and to put each name into the public record.

Swartz and Bannon spoke about the advantages that start-up companies have when advocating for a cause like this. “We have the advantage when bills like this try to pass. This bill helps companies, but not users, so we can make some noise about it. We’re trying to organize startups (like the ones in GA) to use this strategic advantage. We have the talent and audience with our sites to get people interested in stopping this bill,” Swartz and Bannon said. “The politicians see the outcry building for this bill. They want to pass it before it gets too loud. We just need to raise the volume.”

Not only will this bill hurt many jobs that rely on the Internet, but it will actually hurt Internet security, despite the admittedly good intentions of the bill, which aims to control Internet piracy. The US government’s own cyber-security research center came out with a letter recently confirming this, and malicious Internet hackers will only find more deviant ways to spread viruses, making it harder to catch them. We still have a few weeks before this could be turned into a law, so the time has come to make some noise. If we keep sending the message that the Internet is a vital part of our lives and that trying to censor it will hurt us, someone will have to listen.

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