Save The Net

Anonymous has drawn the line and explains the SOPA issue in the clearest terms I've heard so far,  Mr. Roboto voice notwithstanding.  Let me join in to the fray to plead: America, land of the free, please do not let this precedent be set.

Internet infrastructure engineers and entrepreneurs have signed off on their comments to the Senate Judiciary Committee to stop the passing of this act in its current form.   Policing piracy can be accomplished without the censorship agenda that is written into this act.  Why not ask the co-signers of the aformentioned letter how they might handle the issue?  As a generally prudent practice we rely heavily on experts and laud our consulting with them as proof that the decisions made on their advice should be enforced as well-researched and informed policy.  So how is it then that a 71 year old Senator from Vermont and a 77 year old Senator from Utah are the right lawyers to pen legislation (Protect IP passed in 2008 the precurser to SOPA) that effects the information source that will shape the lives of future generations?  Those two got the ball rolling, and now Lamar Smith from Texas has brought SOPA to the table this October (Rep.Smith is a spry and youthful 64 years of age).

I decided to read up on one of the perpetrators of the earlier Protect IP, Senator Patrick Leahy . He's a Grateful Dead and U2 fan, but otherwise enjoys quiet farmhouse life - which is not particularly different than my own father.  You can barely leave my Dad alone on the internet without returning to find he has become lost in a sea of pop-up ads and malware, and is angry as hell he can't find the current cattle prices on this "bloody internet".  Maybe I've got Patrick all wrong, maybe he's a senior-citizen with a tech buzz that trolls 4Chan - but I just can't believe it makes sense to leave decisions regarding alterations to the technical infrastructure of a world-wide network that has facilitated revolutions in the hands of Mr. Leahy, or any of the other septagenarian Senators.  Many of whom hail from an era when telephones were scarce in any given neighborhood.  Lawyering and politics are their business, but I don't trust them meddling with a first-world nation's internet accessibility any more than I would trust my own father (sorry, Dad).  One of the voices of reason who shares my view is actually a Senator, Jason Chaffetz (Rep. from Utah):

"Let's bring the nerds in and get this right," Chaffetz said during a markup hearing on Capitol Hill. "If you don't know what DNSSEC is, you don't know what you're doing."

Amen, brother.

So why them?  This lady knows what I'm talking about:

The prime beneficiaries of this act are bitterly clawing and cleaving to old thinking when it comes to the business of copyright and piracy protection (you couldn't find a better ackronym, "MAFIAA"?).  They've put their money behind these representatives to produce a quick and nasty fix as a solution, because they were behind the curve when technology and peer-sharing cut their profit margin.  Napster was smashed, but now iTunes turns a dollar and Spotify (a paid service out of Sweden) is catering to those who are tired of sorting their mp3 collection.   It's a brave new world for sharing, far from the days when burning a cd in your desktop PC made you feel clever, and some industries just don't get it.  They're willing to endorse a legal package that tramples rights and contains vague language, leaving room for censorship that isn't far from the kind condemned in China, just to say "Fuck You" to The Pirate Bay (and odds are that even SOPA won't take the pirates down).

The most outspoken supporters of SOPA, including Rep. Lamar Smith, count the entertainment industries among their top campaign contributors. Smith himself has received over $50,000 in contributions this year alone.  When I read some of the unpleasant legal particulars in SOPA, my most pessimistic thoughts lead me to wonder how many more special interests are behind this bill.  It isn't hard to imagine how handy it would be to use the power of SOPA to block websites from Americans that may just happen to promote ideologies or movements that clash with government policy. The slippery slope of SOPA could allow the Department of Justice to block a site without any due process to the site owners, or starve it's financial resources to shut it down.

For bloggers like myself, that kind of potential is a real threat on various levels - America is my second biggest hitter, and a lot of what I post are ideas I deeply want to share with Americans.  Which is why, whether you're reading this in Florida, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Alaska or Kentucky - YOU have the power to stand with internet founders and tell your government to find a better solution. Write your representatives, sign the online petition, pay Washington a visit personally and stand in protest. I've done all I can, but it's not my vote that really counts. I'm just a Canuck down under that would appreciate the chance to keep in touch.


Below, a way for NON-US Citizens to make our voice heard:

Further Readings:
Can the Internet Save Itself?
6 Things You Need To Know
Google Says No 
Corruption and Patent Reform in the U.S of A

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