User-Driven Websites Could Face Grim Future Under SOPA

Google put on its best-fitting censor (think: Girls Gone Wild…but bigger and classier) to take a stand against something that could possibly affect many twenty-somethings for the rest of our Internet-using lives. But why tonight and what’s it all about?

Google is participating in its temporary black-out to show its opposition of SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act. This bill came into Congress on Oct. 26, 2011 and the hype has been building due to the fact that debates for the bill’s existence were supposed to take place on Jan. 17, 2012 (they were since postponed until February). According to an article from the Washington Post, SOPA would

“…expand the ability of federal law enforcement to shut down foreign Web sites and services that that use counterfeited or pirated content created by U.S. firms. (It) would allow the FBI to seek injunctions against foreign Web sites that steal music, films, software and other intellectual property created by U.S. firms. The bill also includes provision that could hold third parties — payment-processing and other partners — responsible for piracy and counterfeiting on other sites.”

Basically, if a website is found with any sort of connection to copyright infringement, it can be held responsible under SOPA (even if it was not directly connected to the site committing the crime). The bill would also affect users who merely linked to, wrote about, or mistakenly interacted with a website under suspicion within the SOPA bill. Search engines and other internet service providers, like our best friend Google, would be held under such strong scrutiny to block these sites, that it could result in smaller search results, a loss of jobs, and eventually could lead to possible shut-down. Other sites that survive on user-generated content, such as Twitter and YouTube would also be affected. (Which also got me thinking…would TwentyTweets survive?)

*Update: as of 2 a.m. on Jan. 18, Wikipedia will also join by “going dark” for 24 hours.*

Is censorship of the Internet fair? Or is it actually against our First Amendment rights? We want to know what YOU have to say! Tweet @20sTweet.

For more information about this bill, click here.

To take a stand against online censorship, contact your local Congressman by signing this petition to “End Piracy, Not Liberty.”

~B

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