Some Blue Oregon readers might have noticed that the Internet is broken today.
Those of us who aren't really up to date on Internet freedom and privacy legislation- admittedly, I am including myself in that boat- might be a little confused about why the Internet is broken. I mean, what the heck is SOPA? And isn't PIPA the "undateable" sister of Kate Middleton? I mean, what really is going on?
SOPA and PIPA, of course, are acronyms that refer to two proposed pieces of legislation- Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act. As usual, these regressive bills are provided with names that suggest a positive piece of legislation. I mean, who is really going to protect the rights of Internet pirates, right? And don't we all want to protect our intellectual property?
So why is it that I refer to these bills as regressive? In a nutshell, the United States sets the standards for global Internet usage. These bills- proposed and lobbied for by the corporate entertainment industries and other special interests- would make it easier for governments to shut down suspected websites that infringe on copyrighted material, not only in the U.S. but the entire world. In response to these bills, various websites have "blacked" themselves out. Google's familiar logo is hidden behind a large black box, while Wikipedia- the most trusted, number-one source of information on the Internet- quickly switches to a screen explaining that the site will be blacked out for the next 24 hours. (Where will Internet users turn to get much-needed information?) Other sites I frequently visit for news and information are also blackening themselves out in various matters- the lights of the Political Carnival, for example, have turned themselves off and Representative Earl Blumenauer's website will be blacked out this afternoon in solidarity of the anti-SOPA and PIPA protests. You may have noticed that Blue Oregon is not blacked-out in support of these protests, for the only reason to allow readers to come, share information, and discuss these very important pieces of legislation which may have the chilling effect of turning the Internet from a global information superhighway to a Kafkaesque series of East German-style roadblocks in which the only permissible content is that allowed by those who control the "series of tubes."
As mentioned earlier, I am not fully on top of or any sort of expert on either of these two proposed bills. However, I came across the info-graphic posted on the Angry Black Lady blog which succinctly summarizes what is at stake if these bills are passed. Check out the info-graphic, and feel free to discuss in the comments below. (Click to zoom!)