You can't have ignored it yesterday. Unless you live on a remote island with crapy Internet connection, or was spending time in a place like Las Vegas, the Stop SOPA & PIPA protest must have hit you somehow. Lots of website went dark, others had a specific protest on their homepage.
Slashdot had taken a different approach, where two stories were persistent at the top of the homepage:
Both of these stories are full with valuable resources to explain what SOPA and PIPA actually are, and what you can do to help stop this legislation to pass. Both of these stories had great community engagement, which shows the Slashdot community is aware of the implications of the SOPA & PIPA bills.
However, as a non-US citizen, but a green-card holder, I'm not allowed to vote and cannot register myself as politically active. What I can do, is to help drive awareness of the SOPA & PIPA bills and why these are bad for the Interwebs and Innovation in general.
The story on Slashdot about what you can do to stop SOPA is currently ranking on a 3rd position in the Google SERP's, which makes me happy to help spreading the word and raise awareness (see screenshot on right). As the article has a large number of great resources summed up, but is a lot to digest, here is an outline:
- The intent is to combat online piracy
- It gives the Attorney General and the Department of Justice power to block domain name services
- The Attorney General and the Department of Justice can demand that links be stripped from sites not involved in piracy
- The legislation as written is vague and overly-broad
- SOPA gives power to media companies to black out websites, without the need to proof any copyright is violated.
Consequences of SOPA:
- The most obvious implication of this is that search engines would suddenly be responsible for monitoring and policing everything they index.
- Social Network sites, and user submission sites would need to monitor, sensor and police all content submitted, including comments which might include links to websites which host "piracy content"
Since their inception SOPA and PIPA have raised concerns about blacklisting from online freedom advocates, and tech industry giants. Law professors worry that they could stifle growth and innovation. Other's have warned that the legislation would hurt scientific debate and open discourse on the internet. SOPA and PIPA are not without support however. In fact a wide variety of companies have backed the proposed laws, bringing together an eclectic group. After months of debate, the removal of one of the more controversial provisions, and The White House expressing its own concerns over the law in its current form, Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced that he was shelving SOPA. PIPA however remains, and it is likely that a re-worked version of the House bill will be brought up soon.
Here is a great video explaining how SOPA & PIPA will impact innovation and the Internet as a whole.
What to do against SOPA / PIPA:
Even with the strike day behind us, the fight is not over! There are two big things: contact your representative, and spread the word.
- Call your representative. Don't email or fax, calling is most effective according to staff members of the senators
- List of all SOPA/PIPA supporters and opponents
- The senate contact list and the house contact list
- Contact your representatives: use the EFF's form-letter, the Stop American Censorship form-letter, or sign Google's petition. Calling is most effective!
- If you don't live in the U.S., you can petition the State Department. (And yes, you have a dog in this fight.
SOPA & PIPA must be stopped!