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Internet Censorship Essay

1256 words - 6 pages

Internet Censorship - SOPA
In the past twenty years, the Internet has grown to become an integral part of human function. The unique beauty of the Internet is that it enables its users to share their views and data to a worldwide audience and have their voice heard instantly. Unfortunately, the flexibility of the Internet also allows it to be exploited for illegal activity such as the distribution and theft of copyrighted content. Many governments find this problematic to their economies and are making increased efforts to control Internet use through censorship. The United States recently introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in an attempt to fight online trafficking of copyrighted ...view middle of the document...

5 billion dollars in annual losses to the U.S economy . Although there have been bills in the past in efforts to combat online piracy, none of them protect against overseas websites located outside the United States and are thus untouchable by U.S law. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was the last U.S law implemented trying to control access to copyrighted works. Most of the time, however, overseas websites are freely able to ignore DMCA notices and do not make any attempts to abide by it. In fact, as long as violators remove copyright infringement material there will be no repercussions. SOPA, on the other hand, requires websites (especially search engines like Google) to provide a more proactive role to ensure that the public cannot be exposed to pirated materials thus cutting off the revenue towards these foreign sites. This would greatly help suffering content industries, hence why the majority of companies in support for SOPA are multimedia-based. Supporters of SOPA also argue that it will protect the public against dangerous counterfeit products such as drugs and medications being sold through the Internet. Many drugs sold were testified to being mis-branded, often containing none of the active pharmaceutical ingredients and instead holding toxic ingredients. SOPA would mitigate damage by allowing government to block access.
The threat imposed by SOPA instantly caused dissent around the United States. Ironically, the medium used to spread awareness of SOPA was through the Internet itself. Those opposed to SOPA tend to agree with its alleged goal to stop online piracy and to protect intellectual property on the Internet. The fear of SOPA arises from the fact that it would allow for uncontrolled censorship of the Internet. SOPA requires little due process when taking down a site allowing for high potential for abuse. Harvard Law professor, Lawrence Tribe, stated SOPA’s existence would “dramatically chill protected speech by undermining the openness and free exchange of information at the heart of the Internet.” Essentially, SOPA would violate the First Amendment rights for free speech .
Furthermore, online business would come to a screeching halt as businesses can sue one another for practically anything and risk being shut down. Every website would need to actively monitor all data coming through their site, making it nearly impossible for those that host user-generated content such as Facebook or Twitter to be sustainable. Internet startup companies would hesitate to jump into a minefield of lawsuits thus killing jobs and innovation. According to Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, SOPA would “undo the legal safe harbors that have allowed a world-leading Internet industry to flourish over the last decade” and would “expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability. The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital...

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