question of the day: What is the scariest thing about SOPA, and how scared are you?


It appears that a U.S. Congressional vote on SOPA may take place today or tomorrow. What’s SOPA, you ask? The most succinct description I’ve found is at Motherboard, where Joshua Kopstein explains that the Stop Online Piracy Act is

the single most destructive piece of legislation that the internet has ever faced. SOPA, penned by a team of corporate shills who now have swell lobbyist jobs to show for it, is a bill aimed at combating online piracy in the worst conceivable way possible: By giving copyright holders and the government overreaching, due process-circumventing powers to shut down entire websites based on the mere suspicion that they might contain infringing material.

Worst of all, it’s already happening. Even before the bill has come to vote, censorship shenanigans have already been demonstrated by Universal, who fraudulently removed a music video by that voiced opposition to SOPA. Now, imagine what will happen when SOPA is in full-swing and all of YouTube is held liable for bogus copyright claims … or Etsy, or Flickr.

Of course that says nothing of the countless technologists who have warned SOPA’s China-style DNS blocking will seriously fuck up the internet in general, so it’s really not hyperbolic to say that this is the worst nightmare of a democratic and stable internet.

More background at Hot Air, The Volokh Conspiracy, Geekosystem, and TechSpot.

What is the scariest thing about SOPA, and how scared are you?

I might choose the proud ignorance of America’s elected officials. Again via Motherboard:

[T]he chilling takeaway of this whole debacle was the irrefutable air of anti-intellectualism; that inescapable absurdity that we have members of Congress voting on a technical bill who do not posses any technical knowledge on the subject and do not find it imperative to recognize those who do.

This used to be funny, but now it’s really just terrifying. We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing — it’s just pathetic and sad.

All the other horrors — the attack on civil liberties, the kowtowing to big corporations, the overarching arrogance of the whole thing — stem from the admitted idiocy of lawmakers who are happy to enact a law impacting a technology they know nothing about and won’t accept a bit of schooling in.


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