Say No to SOPA and PIPA

Let's shut the Internet down, let's kill the jobs it creates, that way Robert Murdoch can sell more papers.  What am I talking about. Well, it could happen with this new SOPA and PIPA legislation that has been proposed in Congress.  This legislation is wrong, and should be stopped.

Let me give you some examples of the power governments have over the Internet that they are just beginning to realize.  I'm a poker player, and yes, I use to play on-line. Admittedly, I don't consider myself that good a poker player, but I still enjoyed the online game.  Note the past tense there.  Back in 2006, on the last day before Congress adjourned, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).  The Bill was attached to a bill that had been passed, the SAFE Port Act(HR4954).  UIGEA was added in conference, and the reading of the bill was waived, in order for Congress to adjourn more quickly.  How the two relate, I don't know.  The bill does not ban online poker, it prohibits exchanging funds related to Internet gambling by banks.  Of course, the bill was so hastily written that Internet gambling is not defined.

The Justice Department decided to enforce this bill in April 2011, on a day known as "Black Friday" in the poker world.  They accused, not the banks, but three prominent poker sites, with bank fraud and illegal gambling.  By the way, no where does it say poker is gambling, and it is called a game of skill by poker aficionados.  The Justice Department effectively turned off the poker sites for US players only. And they've been shut down to US players ever since.

Let's take a look at government Internet censorship.  China is the most stringent Internet censor.  It does more than block sites like other countries.  It also bans a list of key words. If a site contains a banned word anywhere on the site, the site is banned.  China monitors all incoming searches against a list of keywords and sites.  China also crippled VPN's (Virtual Private Networks), the mobile Internet, and phone calls.  Since 2010 the word "freedom" has been banned.  In March 2011, Google complained that the Chinese government was censoring its Gmail service, and making it look like a technical problem at Google.  As a result, Google closed its China offices, and moved to Hong Kong.  Other countries, especially in the Middle East, ban certain type of sites in their countries.

From these past events, it has become increasingly clear to Congress that they can control the Internet.  That's power, and once power is realized, you have created a political football for special interest groups to push laws through that benefit their interests.

What do SOPA and PIPA mean to the use of the Internet?  SOPA and PIPA are two bills currently in Congress.  SOPA stands for "Stop Online Piracy Act",Bill HR112-3261 IH, and PIPA is "Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act," Bill S112-968 RS.  We're talking copyrighted material: software, pictures, and written articles.  The bills are attempting to stop foreign sites from stealing copyright material from US sites and the Internet.  Sounds like a good idea, but the problem is in the implementation, as in the UIGEA Poker bill.

SOPA pushes enforcement on web site owners.  The way the SOPA bill is set up every site Google, or Wikipedia, with links would need to be monitor those links to make sure no copyrighted material was on the linked to site, an impossible task.  The Bill calls for the site who is in violation, to be subject to seizure, and action can be brought against the owner.  The web site owners must police their site to make sure no copyright infringement takes place.

Anyone who believes that a site is using their copyrighted material, can shut down that site, and you would have to go to court to reopen the site.  A lot of small site owners would not be able to afford lawyer and court costs.  In addition, big sites like Google would be shut down as their is no way the can police their links to the entire Internet.  If one person filed to shut down the site, it would be shut down.  Can you imagine the Internet without Google, or Yahoo, or Wikipedia.

You can help.  As Wikipedia suggests on their site today. You can help by writing your congressman and letting them know that SOPA and PIPA are not good bills for the Internet.  They will kill creativity, jobs, and a lot of Internet sites.  Here's a page that will help you find your congressman .  Send them an email.  Doesn't have to be a long message.  Just say you don't support SOPA or PIPA.  If enough people do this, they'll get the message.

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