A photo taken at the demonstrations in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2011.
They sound like acronyms for soccer organizations, don't they? SOPA, PIPA... FIFA? But, you know they're not. In fact, they are possibly the most important and alarming acronyms you'll hear these days. The Internet is on strike today. Wikipedia has closed its doors, Google is screaming, news sites, blogs, and the world of social media is protesting so that the US Congress doesn't pass two bills, namely SOPA and PIPA, on January 24th. For those of you who somehow fell out of the loop, here's what these two acronyms stand for. I'm pasting them from Wikipedia, whose only online page is this.
"What are SOPA and PIPA?
SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the "Stop Online Piracy Act," and PIPA is an acronym for the "Protect IP Act." ("IP" stands for "intellectual property.") In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout. GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the public interest in the digital realm, has summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet."
Many people and organizations are arguing that these two bills will do more harm than good, primarily because they will censor the web, which is in today's world the ultimate platform for freedom of expression, will be detrimental to job creation, and of course will not actually stop piracy! As you and I both know, pirates will ALWAYS find a way. Hasn't the US been looking down on China for its censorship and the paralyzing effect it has on the freedom of its citizens? Then, why is the US doing the same thing?
Last May, thousands of people took the streets in Istanbul, Turkey to protest the new internet filters that the Turkish Government decided to impose on its citizens. The filters, which had names like "children," "family," "domestic" were understood as masked restrictions and considered as pure censorship. YouTube was banned for months, but people still accessed it through other domains. Dozens of words, such as "animal," "girl," "naked," "fire" were banned from search engines without any explanation. "I believe in using words, not fists," said Bertrand Russell. If we eliminate words from our lives or don't allow people to use them freely, will we encourage them to turn to violence instead?
I was reading an interview with director, P.T. Anderson the other day (yes, another one) and something he said struck me. He said, "When you're working on something, there's always a danger of screwing the screws in so f****** tight that it's not breathing any longer." And somehow, at least for me, this ties into the whole deal with SOPA and PIPA, as they're nothing but restrictive and serve as a weapon to kill creativity and innovation. It seems like the US Government is trying to screw the screws so tight that they are choking and suffocating the people. And this, the restriction and inaccessibility these two bills will bring to people's lives, is the most alarming problem.
Feel free to comment on this blog to voice your opinion on what the most problematic component in SOPA and PIPA is and why they are a danger to our future.