On Jan. 24, Americans faced a blow to one of their most valued constitutional rights: the right to free speech. The Senate was expected to vote to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, creating mass web censorship.
The Internet is a fundamental part of everyday life, and if passed, these bills would enact the ability to block, and sue any site that has access to, or allows content of any copyrighted material to be displayed.
The power would be given to the entertainment industry to say who is infringing on the rights of their materials and even allow courts to imprison ordinary Internet users for up to five years.
Under SOPA and PIPA even websites such as Facebook and Twitter will risk being shut down and sued if they allow one person to post a link to something with copyrighted materials in it. Even recording yourself singing a pop song and posting it to YouTube, or making a web video with music in the background is cause for it to be shut down, a lawsuit and possibly imprisonment.
Only four senators opposed the PIPA bill, and there needed to be 40 to veto it. The SOPA bill was opposed by only 12 House members and requires 214 to veto it. Fight for the Future hosted an Internet site blackout on Jan. 18. Sites such as Wikipedia, Reddit and WordPress also participated in the “Internet strike.”
More than 115,000 websites went dark on Jan. 18 to protest the censorship bills attempting to be passed.
At the time of its proposal, the Senate and the House saw it as a “slam dunk” to pass these bills with only four Senators against PIPA and only 10 House Members against SOPA.
So, for now, the Senators and House members have listened to the overwhelming number of responses that have been sent in the form of opposing emails, phone calls and website black outs. The bills are currently tabled.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is co-sponsoring a new act being called Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade.
This bill currently is being listed on keeptheinternetopen.com and up for editing from American citizens.
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