Some popular websites are going to look a little different today as providers protest two bills heading through Congress. The legislation is meant to combat piracy overseas of U.S. products overseas. But some worry it may be the first step towards censorship.
It's a battle between free economy and free speech. Two new bills in Congress could be the first step towards censorship of the web in this country. If you are looking for info on Wikipedia today, you will find a black screen over the next 24 hours. Providers hope this will let people know about the possible negative effects of these pieces of legislation.
The web is dressed in black today as some providers protest two pieces of legislation going through Congress. Some companies are worried the bills will cut down on free-speech on the web.
"The big guys, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, they are really concerned because they feel like this is going to impact, negatively impact their business," said Lance Ulanoff from Mashable.
The bills, SOPA, which stands for Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA, which stands for Protect Intellectual Property Act is getting a look in Congress. The bills are aimed at cracking down on sales of pirated U.S. products overseas. But several well-known websites like Wikipedia and Google are worried about the negative effects of these acts.
"It is detrimental to the free and open web. It is detrimental to Wikipedia, and we want to make sure that we send a message potentially getting rid of this bill," said Jay Walsh from Wikimedia.
"The problem of online piracy today is huge, it's immense, it amounts to a hundred billion dollars a year," Representative Lamar Smith from Texas.
If web providers were to allow pirated content on their sites, they could face major fines from the United States Justice Department. Many smaller providers worry these type of legal challenges could be too much to bear. At this point, no one knows what effect this legislation might have on the open air feeling of the web.
"If something like this does get passed, it creates a dynamic, a power that really does cut to the fabric of the internet. We just don't know the consequences of saying 'you have to block sites'," said John Abell from Wired Magazine.
Already, some in Congress are offering a counterproposal to SOPA and PIPA. The OPEN Act was introduced by a Representative from California. The biggest difference is the job of policing the internet would fall to the International Trade Commission rather than the justice department. Many feel this change could lessen the chances of legal action against companies not in compliance.
SOPA will next be before a Senate Committee for a procedural vote on January 24.
Internet sites go black, protest proposed law
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