The House of Representatives is currently considering the bill “Stop Online Piracy Act,” (SOPA) which would infringe upon the freedom we currently enjoy on the Internet.
SOPA is so controversial — EFF calls it “disastrous” — because it would force changes to the Domain Name System and effectively create a blacklist of Internet domains suspected of intellectual property violations.
Those against SOPA include Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and hundreds of Internet start-up companies. Those opposed to the bill have described it in dark terms:
SOPA is an “Internet blacklist bill” that “would allow corporations, organizations or the government to order an internet service provider to block an entire website simply due to an allegation that the site posted infringing content.”
The House is also attempting to silence criticism of the bill by presenting a skewed hearing:
Rep. Lofgren from California said during this morning’s hearing that it was a mistake for SOPA’s backers to dismiss criticism from people and companies who would be affected by it.
“It hasn’t generally been the policy of this committee to dismiss the views of the industries that we’re going to regulate,” Lofgren said. “I understand why cosponsors of this legislation aren’t happy about widespread criticism of this bill,” but attacking the messenger isn’t the answer.
Lofgren also accused Smith, the panel’s chairman, of deliberately stacking the composition of the panel in favor of SOPA. Of the six witnesses invited, “five are in favor and one is against,” she said. “That’s not a balanced panel.”
Internet piracy is an ongoing problem that certainly needs to be addressed. But the way in which this committee is attempting to legislate is unethical and without merit. It is a slippery slope to start censorship and regulation on a note of non-transparency and a failure by the legislators to take all viewpoints into consideration, especially from the industry leaders, themselves.