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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

“Stop Censorship” Movement Will Fight For Future Of The Web

New copyright law called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in October and has been lively debated. Today the bill has almost all the leading online technology providers up in arms, with the opposing movement’s logos appearing on all major sites and the matter being discussed because of the law’s far-reaching consequences.

The suggested law has been debated in the American Congress for a month already, backed by the largest corporations, mostly film studios, which all have polarized opinion. Industry observers call their fight against the legislation a fight for the future of the web. Despite the fact that the law will only apply to the United States, it could still have a ripple effect all over the world because of the amount of information residing physically in servers within the country.

Intermediaries, like payment services and content-hosting providers, are afraid that the suggested law will not just make them responsible of copyright infringements, but also make them potential victims of trolling. Within the past month, the movement called “Stop Censorship” has gained ground throughout the Internet. A number of websites have voluntarily placed the movement labels over their own logos and posted comments. For example, the website Mashable, which is tracking social media trends, compared the SOPA to other draconian legislation across the globe (like those in China and Syria), which could curb a free web.

Such online giants as Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo have already issued huge advertisements in leading American dailies where they oppose the bill, while other companies have done things more dramatic. For instance, popular blogging service called Tumblr blacked out words from its feed in order to send out a message to the authorities.

However, industry observers point out that opposing this legislation may end badly. The SOPA, in its current form, may also choose the way the American government tackled Wikileaks – cut funding. Meanwhile, the first targets on the cross hairs of the bill could become the most popular online services, including Facebook, Twitter, and virtually every website thriving on user-generated content. To avoid this, some projects are already promoting Internet anonymity which can help activists share sensitive content.

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