SOPA: A Futurists Nightmare
A fictional character that I have always held in high regard has been Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man. It’s silly, I know, but his philosophical outlook is what most attracts me to him. He always claimed to be a Futurist, and that’s the ideology in which I have a certain affinity towards.
Tell me he isn’t awesome! Futurism was an international movement centered in Italy in the year 1909. It was a very different outlook compared to the sentimentalism of Romanticism. The Futurists loved speed, noise, machines, and cities; they embraced the new world instead of fixating on the present. Fearing and attacking technology has become second nature to many people today; the Futurist would instead embrace it knowing that technology has the power not to just simplify people’s lives, but to make the world a better place.
Because of this principal I almost always embrace the new, and fantasize about the world of tomorrow. I look at something like the internet and am forever in awe of its awesomness. This tool has made communication easy across borders, it has sparked revolutions, inspired many, has made the world of knowledge accessible to all, and has also shaped and reinvented many industries.
The fact that I live in a country known for preserving my liberties and promoting the freedom of speech has been comforting. Having an administration in office pushing a new level of transparency between the Federal Government and the population. So where is this all leading to?
SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) is a bill that was introduced into the House of Representatives on October 26, 2011. The act would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.
In theory this is a fine practice, and I have no opposition to the reason why such a bill would be presented. But the originally proposed bill would allow the Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of being involved in copyright infringement. The wording of the bill is so ambiguous as to nullify any rights citizens have obtained via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
“Fair Use” becomes nearly meaningless, leading to something as simple as a cover song posted to YouTube to become a liability to the poster.
Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks, Google AdSense, and payment facilitators, PayPal, from doing business with the “allegedly” infringing website. It could bar search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block these sites all together.
The internet would essentially be rendered a crippled shell of its former self. Controlled and filtered by not just the government, but also the corporations. Now the “Land of the Free,” has a “Great Firewall.” This act would cripple our future.
While the bill is being reworded to be less ambiguous, it reminds me of the famous quote by Martin Niemöller.
“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
We may not be discussing the persecution of us the people, but it draws parallels because our rights as citizens will be taken away if we don’t stand up for them now!
Just before the New Year, the NDAA was signed into effect; essentially stripping us away of our Sixth Amendment right to a fair and speed trial by allowing the government to hold anyone on or off of US soil indefinitely under suspicion of terrorist activity. This is a slippery slope, that even if the reworded bill is more appeasing to many, we would be risking our rights as Americans to allow it to pass.
I ask that if you haven’t already please contact your local Congressman (or woman) to express your disdain for the bill. I suggest visiting http://americancensorship.org/ for more information on the bill, and how to fight it.
Politics is not a spectator sport, and your rights are on the line.
Originally published at blog.mehdisolati.com on January 4, 2012.