Described as “the end of the internet as we know it,” by California Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren, SOPA and PIPA would make it easier for copyright holders to prosecute piracy. Corporations could obtain a court order to take down any website considered to be infringing their copyrights, and internet providers could be required to monitor customers’ traffic.
That means SOPA and PIPA could be used to censor any dissenting website, even if it only indirectly facilitates copyright infringement by linking to a site hosting pirated media. Popular search engines and social media websites could easily be shutdown. Watch the video below for a comprehensive and easy to understand explanation of SOPA and PIPA:
The House cancelled a vote on SOPA scheduled for late January 2012, pulling the bill from the floor, but it can still easily return later. The White House has come out against SOPA and PIPA, but Obama still seeks anti-piracy legislation that more people can agree on. And PIPA is still alive and well in the Senate.
The internet is an essential means of communication and expression across the world, albeit vastly unregulated. But limiting free speech and monitoring Americans online activity is dangerous—these bills could snowball to further online censorship. SOPA and PIPA put all websites, including this one, at risk. The bills are written vaguely, so even a rogue spam comment linking to pirated material could be grounds to shut a website down.
Tell your members of Congress censoring the internet is not acceptable. Quickly email your Senator about this issue at AmericanCensorship.org.