Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Technology

SOPA Must Be Defeated

When I had first heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act and commented on it some weeks ago, I had not had the opportunity to delve too much into what exactly the bill and its sister in the Senate--PIPA--entail. I have since had an opportunity to explore SOPA more and in that time have actively started to advocate its defeat. Online piracy is a huge problem that leads to billions of dollars being lost every year; most of my family works in the entertainment industry--film, television, music, and stage--and I understand why Hollywood is so behind stopping online piracy. The same goes for corporations and inventors, who lose formulas and business plans to competition, mostly in Asia, with alarming frequency. Nonetheless, the solution is not to give the government the power to become master of the Internet. Potentially under SOPA, just for having a link to a foreign or domestic website that may have pirated content on it is enough for the Department of Justice to shut the website with the link down. This means that the government will be prescreening Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, the blogosphere, and a multitude of other websites, with the authority to shut them down if they do not censor whatever the government orders them to censor.

As Eric Holder's administration has shown, the Department of Justice ought not to be trusted with such authority. As the incompetent, overbearing, and at times downright nefarious Transportation Security Administration has exhibited, some things created for our "protection" can end up proving to be far too much of a burden to reasonably stand. Furthermore, with the examples of China, Iran, and North Korea before us, we ought to be leery of anything granting the federal government any overreaching powers over the web. Piracy of entertainment and trade secrets must be reined in, but not at the cost of Internet freedom. SOPA has good intentions, but it does not too. Whatever bill is past must have a few more checks on government power here so that the medicine is not worse than the poison.
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