Day 18: SOPA and staying informed

Everyone is jumping on the “Stop SOPA!” bandwagon, and I find it really refreshing to watch the controversy and the discussion of it all.  I also found it interesting that so many websites (including the sponsor of this blog, and have resorted to blackouts of their sites in protest of the act.  What is even more interesting is to how much media attention this has been receiving in the past several weeks.

If you do not know anything about SOPA or the protests against it, check out the links below I found that help give some insight into all this:

Interestingly enough, I remember reading about SOPA when it was first introduced – I’m a bit of a news junkie and since moving overseas, I read online news a lot.  I thought it sounded a little fishy from the beginning, and there were skeptics in the initial presentation and planning of it.  I read discussions about the changes to internet  and personal privacy and how this could place more blame and work on ISPs and companies that have no control over user activity.  I read comparisons of SOPA to the backlash of the Patriot Act in the early 2000s, where a well-intentioned act to help increase security ended up invading the privacy of many innocent people in the process.  From what I read, most people both for and against the act acknowledged that the wording of the act is vague and leaves a great amount of gray area that can be misinterpreted and misused.  I admit that I lost interest as the debates wore on and have been putting more focus on the upcoming presidential race and economies in Europe (which everyone should be following.  It is fascinating, scary, and effects all of us everywhere).  Now, the SOPA act is coming up to vote and the protests are back at the forefront of media and in people’s minds.

While researching SOPA, I found some interesting internet regulations taking place in other countries.  Since I live here, I looked at Italy and saw that it also struggles with internet piracy and foreign firms that are beyond their legal control.  For example, the Swedish website ThePirateBay has been blocked, then unblocked, then blocked again by Italian authorities.  There are so many loopholes for illegal bit torrent and file sharing sites to get past; the sites can make new sites after theirs are blocked, and the manpower needed to continually monitor ISPs is overwhelming.  The SOPA act in the US hopes to combat all these problems, but if other countries encounter the same problems, how will the US combat these in much larger numbers?

What do you think about the act?  Do you feel like this is a slippery slope, that allowing so much government involvement and intrusion can only lead to more of the same?  Or is a little intrusion worth it if copyrights and patents are better protected?  It is everyone’s opinion, and I think you need to be informed to make that opinion.  I know not everyone is as fascinated by world and domestic news as I am, but as a voter, citizen, parent, and spouse, I feel like we should be more informed about what is happening within our own country.  Yes, government and politics can be dreadfully boring at times.  Despite that, these are decisions being made for us.  Even if we feel powerless in the shadow of big government, we can still have a grasp of the things being determined for our country.

There is my soapbox for the day.  I am not sure what will happen and if SOPA passes, I do not know exactly the consequences for everyone.  At the end of the day, I just want the freedom to access my internet without any fear – or any more fear that I already have of viruses, spam mail, and hacking.  I will stay tuned for the outcome.  I do love a good protest!


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