Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The new Big Brother: Sordid tales of SOPA

Posted by on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Our Online Future
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The least popular U.S. Congress has just made itself less popular. With the passage of HR3261.IH commonly known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), our representatives have managed to bring the Internet out of the Wild West, which isn't a bad thing on the face of it, but passage of the bill presents a strong likelihood that there will be too many sheriffs in Interwebs town.

Thousands appear willing to stand up against the powers that be in the digital no man's land. These electronic freedom fighters are executing boycotts of any service that supports SOPA. You can find a list of supporting companies, and detractors on the site SOPA: Who's in and who's out? thanks to Engadget.

GoDaddy, the domain name seller and host, was very vocal in its support of SOPA early in the proceedings, prompting a huge exodus from their service. Cyber consumers across the U.S. dropped GoDaddy as their host and put up their sites on more politically aligned hosts.

Since the exodus began, GoDaddy has been accused of dragging its feet in releasing vital data to the new companies, a charge GoDaddy denies. So, after the loss became apparent, GoDaddy quickly dropped its support of SOPA, but it was too late as Congress passed it anyway. This is huge, as GoDaddy's aggressive advertising and decent rates it them one of the Internet's largest hosts. The boycott should show some companies that the digital public is more than willing to fight against censorship in our electronic realm.

So, SOPA has millions up in arms. Will it be more than just a bill on Capitol Hill?

Well, it will soon land on Obama's desk. He has vowed not to sign it, but I trust a politician's promise as much as I do Newt Gingrich's wedding vows. It's a law that is designed to stop the theft of music, movies, TV and any other intellectual property.

This isn't sinister, right?

Of course not, at least under our current system. No one wants his stuff stolen. However, the way this bill goes about it is to give your Internet service providers the right and duty to watch everything you do (which they mostly do as it is). It creates the new Big Brother. It also gives your ISP the right to block sites it suspects of wrongdoing, giving broad censorship abilities to the government and some private companies.

Now, I know you have nothing to hide, but are you sure?

Are you sure you've never clicked the wrong banner on that porn site you found? Your grandmother never Googled a movie or book you told her she'd like, and went to the wrong site to watch it? These will become criminal offenses if SOPA is signed into law. There is a petition on the White House's website you can sign if you feel that this is too much.

One last thing. The list of companies that support SOPA has become the hit list for the hacktivist group Anonymous. This loosely united band of angry computer hackers have proven themselves quite adept at entering anyone's system. They attacked Sony, Nintendo, GoDaddy and others. I don't suggest you go this route, but know that some are out there scaring the corporations into withdrawing support. The fewer lobbyists whispering into Obama's ear the better.

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