Blackout sends a warning

On Wednesday a number of popular websites, including Wikipedia and Reddit, were blacked out. It was a decision made in protest of proposed U.S. legislation that could hinder free and open Internet access.

The plan showcased how important this access is in the modern world and the potential effects of restrictive legislation.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) seek to alter the law to protect intellectual property and copyrights. These acts are contrary to the very nature of the web.

The legislation would empower Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block the domain name of sites that feature or link to pirated content.

If someone tweeted a link to a pirated TV show, the ISP would have the right to block Twitter.

It’s legislation that has horrible implications for all social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Soundcloud and YouTube, to name a few, would have to start censoring their own users or else be subject to fines or censorship.

This sort of restriction would strike a direct blow to the health and function of the Internet. While it’s questionable whether or not ISPs would block sites that are as large and robust as Facebook or Youtube, it would be dangerous for start-ups.

The free flow of information and products, such as music, movies and software, is desirable for the Internet user and consumer, but protecting the livelihood and viability of producers is more important.

Internet users want to think that everything on the net is free, but it’s simply not that way. Protecting intellectual property is important, but the legislation fails at its core goal.

Internet is a part of daily life, and legislation that aims to ruin the web as we know it needs to be challenged.

Not having Wikipedia for a day was frustrating, but not having it ever would be detrimental to the Internet as a whole.

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