Solar VPS Blog

U.N. #FreeandOpen, SOPA, Internet Freedom

SOPA/PIPA Wikipedia Blackout

SOPA/PIPA Wikipedia Blackout

For those who remember, around this time last year, members of the U.S. Congress debated SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). At the laws at the heart of the bills would have stuck down the open source world the Internet works off of. By raising attention to the issue, the international Internet community (fueled by Google and Wikipedia website blackout’s) defeated the bill. The defeat of both SOPA and PIPA promoted the Internet community to rejoice and for the time being, breathe easy. However, like every war, a single battle does not constitute the entirety of the fight. Roughly a year later, the U.N. is currently in congress seeking to revise, as “the father of the Internet” and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, Vint Cerf recently noted, a decades old treaty which could limit free speech across the Internet.

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OPEN Act: A Good Thing?

Now that SOPA and PIPA are tabled – at least for the time being, lawmakers are looking to a new bill for answers to the pervasive problem of Internet piracy. OPEN – or Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act – may be that answer: “I think that OPEN is a good start,” explains Solar VPS Founder and COO Ross Brouse. “It shows that the democratic process works. When a proposed bill is flawed, we can go back to the drawing board and make things better.”

Brouse is referring to the public outcry against the SOPA/PIPA bills, which forced Congressional supporters into retreat. Despite thousands, if not millions, of dollars spent by media conglomerates to lobby Congress in favor of the bills – non-profit research organization Media Matters for America reports that an estimated 28 different lobbying firms were hired by the likes of Comcast, Disney, et al., organizations such as the Save Hosting Coalition were able to rally support amongst the IT community and others who benefit from an open Internet (that’s EVERYONE!). “The outcry was massive,” Brouse says. “Shelving SOPA and PIPA has been a great success. We (the protestors) created awareness and people’s awareness enabled them to speak up about how SOPA and PIPA are toxic for our economy – especially when it comes to jobs – and for the basic freedoms we, as Americans, hold dear.”

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How SOPA and PIPA Could Cripple the Internet

America was built on the right to free speech. Right now that freedom is in danger, because of a bill currently before the US House of Representatives called the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261). While the Bill is intended to protect copyright holders and content creators from copyright violators outside of US jurisdiction, it is written ambiguously and effectively creates a government firewall. The Bill would allow the US Government to block Americans from visiting websites via DNS blocking – similar methods are used by Iran, China and Syria. Using DNS blocking, operators of websites that contain content that is in violation of copyright (or even linking to such content) could have their US web traffic, search traffic and ad-revenue blocked.

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