Is the Internet about to break?
When WordPress, the world’s most popular Blogging and Content Management System, takes a political stand you know it must be important.? WordPress tends to shy away from the political spectrum since it has its hands full keeping both WordPress.com and WordPress.org running smoothly in terms of new updates, features and security enhancements
But on January 10, 2012, it finally threw its hat in the ring and officially protested developments taking place in Washington, D.C., which look set to send shockwaves through the Internet.
What are they afraid of? It’s an ugly development called censorship, which WordPress, along with Google, believe will stifle the creativity and spirit of the Internet.
On Tuesday, January 24th, the Senate is due to pass an Internet Censorship bill that could actually “break the Internet”. They call this the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA.
Private corporations want the ability to shutdown unauthorized sites where users can download music, video and photos. This means Government could force ISPs and web hosting providers like midPhase to block access to infringing domain names.? They could also sue U.S. based search engines, including blogs and forums, for infringement. Corporations and government could even force advertisers to pull ads from offending web hosts and search engines.
Tech heavyweights like WordPress believe the incoming regulations are a waste of time and will not stop illegal downloads, since users could just type in the IP address instead of the domain name.
Further, it will cripple new startups because any company may sue them if they feel their filtering methods are not robust enough. This means if you are small startup or SMB you could be bankrupt before you have your first customers through the door.
There are also concerns that the language contained in the bill is so ambiguous it allows ANY social media site to be targeted for illegal downloads or content sharing. This means sites like Tumblr or even YouTube could be targets for shutdown.
Even if you believe the Government will not abuse these new powers, the same may not be said for other countries that seek to adopt their own unique laws. This means we could see a fragmentation of the Internet and a reduction in its usefulness to small business and consumers around the world.
The new law essentially allows the Government to fiddle with the domain registries, which may ironically reduce the security and stability of the Global DNS.
Plus, there are already tools like the Digital Millennium Act and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that provide some measure of retribution for corporations, including big Hollywood movie producers, who seek to punish offenders.
In many respects, this is a battle between Libertarians and those who see the need for more Government to protect the people. The Internet was built on the concepts of openness and sharing. It has helped bring down regimes and challenge the Status Quo. If this Bill passes it may threaten all that we love about this revolutionary medium.
To learn more about the midPhase SOPA stance click here for more information.
If you believe the Internet should be protected and kept free from unnecessary regulation you can cast your vote here. There is not much time!
I WANT TO STOP AMERICAN CENSORSHIP