Over the last few days, I've been following and taking interest in what is now only a day away, an across the web 'black out'. Exciting and scary times are upon us, sites such as Wikipedia, Reddit (Reddit being one of the largest growing and diverse cultures that can be found online) and games such as Minecraft will all 'go dark' meaning, websites will not be accessible, and playing Minecraft online will be impossible. In fact, there is an entire list of the websites and companies that will be going offline that can be found here. But why are these sites taking action, and what are they taking action against?
These site's are standing up against something that we all need to realise, does and will affect each and every one of us. Two Federal Internet regulation bills have been proposed, PIPA and SOPA. (Protect Intellectual Property Act and Stop Online Piracy Act) Both of which are proposing laws be put in place to stop the sharing and publishing of copyrighted information. But it's not only what these bills will mean for the Internet, but it's the method of which they intend for it to be done. They propose that ISP's will be forced to stop access to any site that they deem as copyright infringing sites, and for services such as Google, and other searching sites to have blocks and limits that will stop their results from returning any sites that contain copyrighted items. Also to be used against copyright infringement will be PayPal, if the SOPA bill does, eventually get passed what this will mean is that PayPal will have to cut its ties to any website that does not fit in with SOPA regulations. But a true view on the harsh reality of what SOPA means is that if you are caught to stream copyright material ten or more times in a six months period, you could be facing 5 years in prison.
But all this goes directly against what the Internet and its community is, and is becoming. I mean, I'm against direct copyright infringement, but when such sites as Wikipedia, are to be threatened, a site that's whole purpose is being a central source to sharing, and user contributed information, a site that is at the forefront of what the Internet is all about, then i can't help but feel that SOPA and PIPA are in direct conflict to the interests to the massive majority.
People are worried, and so am i. If these bills get passed, then we can say goodbye to many of the sites that we know and love, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Tumblr, and many others will be massively censored and monitored, and even the information that you post on your social networking sites could cause you a lot of trouble.
But not all is looking bad, SOPA and PIPA have caused the masses again to come together and fight for what they believe is right, These black outs are a fine example of that, and even the White House, and Obama, have said outright that they do not and will not support these acts, even showing that they intend to Veto such bills. These expressions from the President has thrown a spanner in the mix, and caused a lot of supporters of the acts upset. Obama feels that the more damaging pieces of the bills, will not help the global Internet structure, and should not be allowed to pass, because of this, SOPA is looking to be shelved, and PIPA has been knocked back a few notches.
All I'm saying is that the next few days, and the following months, are times that you should be following your tech news, and supporting in any way we can. There is a growing threat of our online world as we know it, being affected, thus affecting each and everyone of us. We are in changing times, and we can only hope it's for the better, and that changes like SOPA and PIPA will cause, are kept away. The Internet is almost completely unmanageable, and efforts to manage such a free world, will only ever be futile and self damaging.
The Internet is still young. Let it grow and blossom, we're really only at the start of its capabilities, and it should be free to evolve with no restrictions.