By Zuleyka Indarte
Those who have been online at all today will have noticed there is limited to no access to many of the websites frequented daily. It is all intentional. Thousands of sites have chosen to protest the controversial SOPA and PIPA “anti-piracy” bills proposed by the U.S. Senate by undergoing a 24-hour blackout. That means no Wikipedia, no Yahoo!, and a blocked logo by Google.
The two bills are an attempt by the Senate to address the issue of piracy on the internet. Many industries, particularly in the entertainment industry, have suffered economically with the advent of sites that allow the public to access music, movies, shows, etc. illegally and free of charge. The proposed legislation, however, has been deemed by protesters as an outright violation of the American public’s 1st Amendment rights.
The SOPA and PIPA bills, which were originally proposed in May 2011, have become a hot topic among avid bloggers. The protesting cries and acts of those opposed to the bill seem to be working in their favor. Since the blackout began, three co-sponsors of the antipiracy bills have withdrawn their support. Senator Marco Rubio, and Representatives Lee Terry and Ben Quayle pulled their names from the Stop Online Piracy Act. Senator Rubio commented on his Facebook page, writing “Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.”
In a press release last week, the White House stated it would not support the bills as they were currently written and their sponsors would be open to changing provisions of SOPA. In a recent statement, Senator Patrick Leahy said, “We should have an open debate on the PROTECT IP Act. Hiding behind the black box of self-censorship does not resolve the problem that is plaguing American business and hurting American consumers.”
Many have expressed concern that the bills, if passed, will only increase the federal government’s control over the public by curbing free speech, fostering censorship, and creating “virtual blacklists.”
The U.S. Senate will return to work on the proposed legislations on January 23.