The future of the Internet as we know it, is at stake, thanks to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act that have been the talk of the town lately. The SOPA bill is opposed by big brands like Google, Mozilla and Facebook. If it becomes a law, it can potentially take down an entire website for one infringing content. This poses maximum risk to user-generated online content (think social networks, blogs and forums).
People all over the world have expressed their concerns with open letters and petitions against SOPA. However, this time, SOPA will face its first global challenge- an opposition from the European Union (EU). The EU parliament has warned the US, highlighting “the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.” This stance puts EU officially in opposition of the SOPA bill.
Even before the EU, SOPA has seen formal opposition. This is an excerpt from a letter written by around 60 civil and human rights organizations [link to PDF file] on November 15:
The United States has long been a strong advocate for the protection and promotion
of an open Internet. However, by institutionalizing the use of internet censorship tools to enforce
domestic law in the United States, SOPA creates a paradox that undermines its moral authority to
criticize repressive regimes.
Through SOPA, the United States is attempting to dominate a shared global resource. Building a
nationwide firewall and creating barriers for international website and service operators makes a
powerful statement that the United States is not interested in participating in a global information
The petition is written beautifully, and it hits the bull’s eye with the exact problem that anyone and everyone has with this bill.
SOPA is not a bill that affects the US alone. It affects the entire world. It puts the USA as the guardian of the entire Internet since most of the websites in the world are registered in the US. A recent case where a US registered Spanish website was removed is proof of the fact. Once the bill is passed, events like these will be the order of the day.
The US government is going to unreasonable lengths to protect the interests of a particular sector of business, and is upsetting people all over the world, in this process. It is time they step back and take a holistic view of the situation.