Right now, there’s a bill circulating in the U.S. that will prevent those who reside in the U.S. from visiting certain websites. This bill is called the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Which websites will be shut down? This bit of information is largely unknown, but it’s fair to assume that any site that the government finds offensive (read: piracy sites) will no longer be viewable from within the United States.
Those who support this bill want to put an end to online piracy sites (music, movies...). However, the problem here is that the government can’t restrict certain sites without accidentally restricting a number of other sites.
Further, it is possible that sites other than piracy sites may suddenly be deemed offensive, and these sites would also be restricted. To add to that, this bill will grant the government power to monitor emails and social network posts. Not surprisingly, there are many petitions circulating that aim to stop this bill from passing.
How This Bill Will Change the Web
If passed, SOPA will change the Internet as Americans know it. Sites that were once accessible will be blocked from view. Whole websites will just disappear, and it will become impossible to even visit a site that some once spent much time on.
Again, it’s anyone’s guess as to which sites will be blocked and which sites will be available for citizens of the United States. If this sounds a lot like censorship that’s happening in other parts of the world, you’re right. Currently, many other countries (including Iran, Syria, and China) employ the same censorship tactics.
So, who’s behind this bill? Well, to be exact, there are two bills circulating right now that aim to censor the Internet. The first bill is backed by Patrick Leahy (this bill is called the Protect IP Act). The second bill is backed by Lamar Smith (SOPA).
If you happen to side with those who support either bill, you will be joining the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO, and the Motion Picture Association of America. If you oppose these bills, you will be joining up with Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Zynga, AOL, Facebook, Mozilla, and Yahoo. Some might say it’s Internet giants versus everyone else.
Neither one of these bills has been passed yet. Right now, many Americans are signing up to stop these bills. Most are afraid that while trying to censor piracy sites, the government will censor other sites as well – seemingly inevitable. Others are afraid that those who support these bills do not fully understand how the Internet works. Many still are simply protesting censorship in any form within the United States.
The outcomes of these bills are unclear as of the time of this writing. What is clear is that the Internet will change drastically if these bills are passed. To find out more about either of these bills, take a moment to scour the Internet. You’ll find that every magazine and newspaper across the country has covered this story from one angle or another.