Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Internet Goes on Strike!

I'm sure by now that you've seen the websites that have gone dark today, Wikipedia, Reddit, Craigslist, WordPress, and many more (Yes, every letter is a different link).  Others are getting into the spirit in unique ways.  Google blocked out their logo on the US pages, 4chan (totally not safe for work) is censoring all text, Twitpic blacked out their logo, and Fark even went white in sarcastic support.

But why are they doing this?  Two little bills called Protect IP act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  These bills claim to stop foreign websites dedicated to copyright infringement online.  They do that not by attacking the foreign sites directly, but by forcing US based advertisement companies, payment processors, and search engines to black list the accused sites.  I say accused because there is not court involved, there is not trial, there is no innocent until proven guilty.  The accusing party only has to send a legal letter to the US companies, then the companies have two choices; ignore the letter and risk liability, or stop doing business with the accused site and get immunity from any potential lawsuit.

There's much more wrong with these bills, but that right there should stop them cold.  It's violating one of the founding principles of the United States; innocent until proven guilty.  That's not "a US citizen is innocent until proven guilty", that's "EVERYONE is innocent until proven guilty." 

Add on top of that the fact that the law is not meant to punish the "pirate" site, the site is left alone.  The burden is on US companies.  The Pirate Bay doesn't get affected (though it's not affected due to another idiotic part of the law), Google gets the burden of censoring the links, PayPal gets the burden of blacklisting the account.

This brings me to my two main rants.

1) The US Constitution doesn't actually apply to US citizens, it applies to the US government.  The First Amendment starts with "Congress shall make no law...", not "US Citizens have the right to free speech."  This means that the US government cannot infringe on anyone's free speech.  I think if we all realized this, the world would start to be a better place (Or the US would at least get their noses out of everyone's business).

2) If you were working with a company and they falsely sued you for breach of contract, would you ever work with them again?  I feel the same about any company that supports these kind of laws.  I will not buy, download, or even talk about anything these people sell.  Please, stop this bullshit.  I want to buy your stuff, I want to give you my money, but I won't as long as you're trying to remove my rights and destroy my Internet.

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