When you look back at the origins of PIPA and SOPA, two bills before the US senate this year dealing with the Internet, you’ll see they more than likely started fermenting in the days of Napster and other free files sharing websites.
The forces that be in the entertainment industry are railing against the copying on intellectual property online with these bills and there’s two sides here that seem to be gearing up for an epic battle that concerns us about the implications for Internet censorship.
In one corner are the people like the Country Music Association and the United States Chamber of Commerce. On the other side of the debate are the usual friendly faces like Google , Facebook and Twitter. One group wants a way to protect the items produced by the movie industry and record labels, and the other group wants the web protected from censorship.
It’s too easy to paint this whole thing in a simple Us versus Them scenario, but the fact remains that when you open one of these doors, all kinds of bad things can happen. Still, before we all go waving the Power To The People flags, it’s important to remember that 2.2 million people are having their livings compromised by the kind of online theft these bills want to combat.
Advocates for freedom on the Internet like NetCoalition have no issues with plugging the holes that allow for this problem and cost the American economy every year, they’re just concerned these news bills seem to want Internet providers to police the people who subscribe.
Of course what makes it all worse is the fact that many Congress members have admitted they really don’t understand the issues that surround the bill.
Back to China. When a country gives out the China Internet Self-Discipline Award to executives from industry, it’s really time to start dusting off that old copy of 1984. There are only eight gateways whereby the Chinese Internet filters lets in the rest of the world and this makes it all more easy to be selective about what gets through.
Most people in that land are unaware of what exists beyond this firewall and only the most Internet savvy people there know how to get around these measures. All this comes from a new book called Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom, by Rebecca MacKinnon
Hopefully, Hollywood wont be sending emissaries there to learn what they can get away with on this side of what’s still a relatively free web.