Blackout: Stop SOPA, PIPA

The bottom line that the average consumer needs to understand when it comes to the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) is that it has too many potential abuses. Individuals, corporations, and political organizations will be able to use strict interpretations of some of its language to target just about anyone or anything for Federal censorship under the guise of protecting intellectual property rights. The law wasn’t born from a bad idea, but it’s a bad law.

I like Chris Dodd, but the guy is being paid to back these bills. It’s bad legislation. There are better-written alternatives (like OPEN) in the pipeline, and we should start to have a serious discussion about what is and is not a good idea.

I’m an unabashed believer in the free exchange of information, and empowering (vis-à-vis mandating) the Justice Department to target organizations based upon actions that may not be taken by those organizations is dangerous. If someone posts a link to illicit or copyrighted materials on my website, for example, I’m notified. And I can go after and remove that comment. But what if I’m on vacation without my computer for a few days, or what if I think the article it links to is a great article even though it contains a link that I personally don’t think passes copyright muster? Strictly interpreted, SOPA and PIPA would give the Justice Department the tools it needs to come after me, and would open the door to my being sued for incredible damages and losses that have nothing to do with me. Now imagine the machinations of multi-million-dollar corporations in competition, or political rival factions… One person does something wrong (perhaps intentionally) while in your sandbox, and before you know it, your Tonka trucks are being confiscated and you may not know why.

It smacks of witch-hunting, and I don’t approve.

That’s why starting today, January 18, you’ll see many major websites – yanno, like Google, Wikipedia, and… ahem… – redacting logos and blacking out their content. It’s a campaign to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, and encourage individual citizens to give their elected officials the political capital they need (in the form of vocal grassroots support) to say no to the lobbyists. I like Chris Dodd, but I wanna beat the guy soundly on this issue.

This has far-reaching implications, and I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t have serious potential repercussions for education. But there’s a broader issue of Constitutionality and of the kind of country we want to be that is simmering just beneath the surface of this debate.

Visit to sign the Google petition.