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What You Need To Know About the Stop Online Piracy Act – The Geek Girl Report

Computer User (www.jjc.edu)

I’ll be honest, I don’t follow the goings-on of Congress or the House of Representatives very closely. However, there is a certain piece of legislation floating around in the House that has caught my attention. And if it passes, it could have a serious effect on how we use the Internet.

It’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. It was introduced into the house by Representative Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and it’s purpose is self-explanatory: it aims to stop online piracy. More specifically, it would grant the Department of Justice the authority to shut down any site that sells “pirated” material, such as music, movies or other such “intellectual properties.” Naturally, this bill is a big hit with the major victims of pirated material , like Hollywood and record companies.

However, a large, vocal opposition, are claiming that the bill has nothing to with protecting privacy and everything to do with Internet censorship. Basically, if this bill passes, anyone can go to the Department of Justice, claim that a certain site is guilty of copyright infringement, and the entire site could be shut down as a result.

This bill is very troubling to me for a few reasons: 1.) The definitions used to define what’s copyright infringement and what isn’t is very broad, 2.) The proposed technology used to enforce this bill is DNS blocking, the same kind of technology used to “monitor” the Internet in China (and we all know how great and free the Internet is over there…) 3.) The U.S. generally leads the way in how the Internet is used, so if we go through with this insane bill, other countries may start following suit.

The next hearing of this bill will be Wednesday, December 21st, provided that the House will be in session that day. Either way, I will be following this story very closely, and praying like crazy that this bill does not pass.

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