What happened to Google today?

Geoff Pickle, Web EditorWhere did my Wikipedia go? What’s up with Google? Why can’t I get on Craigslist?

You may have noticed today that sites across the Web have been blacked out. Pay attention.

In efforts to stem the flow of piracy, Congress is looking at two bills: the Protect IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House.

For weeks, the bills have been heavily protested by Web users, in most cases not because they support piracy, but because the bills, if enacted, would go too far to stop it.

In essence, the bills seem pure enough. Piracy is a problem that companies are facing every day. But the devil is in the details.

Essentially, the bills would allow the U.S. attorney general, and other entities, to seek court orders against Web sites accused of enabling or facilitating copyrighted materials. In so doing, U.S. sites and search engines could be required to remove links to those sites, and Internet service providers could be ordered to block access to those sites, among other provisions.

In a sense, it would require sites with user-generated content to heavily police themselves. They could be black-listed if they don’t, thus the theme of today’s protests.

For a detailed look at the two bills, including links to both, check out this blog post on social media site Reddit (Warning, there is one use of an expletive).

Today’s Web protests are reminders of what could be lost if these pieces of legislation are allowed to pass.

In Wikipedia’s words: “Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet.”

In Google’s words: “(The bills) would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business.”

The bills could spell an end to the level of freedom Americans currently enjoy on the Web.

You won’t hear many argue that piracy is OK, and perhaps legislation could be drafted that fairly regulates it, but SOPA and PIPA are not it.

It can be easy to overlook legislation like this if one isn’t paying attention. With major Web sites putting the protest right in everyone’s face, however, it can’t be ignored.

The bills are on the table and will soon face action by Congress. Talk about it.

And, to really drive the point home, speak to your representatives. The more attention these protests receive, the better.


1 Response to “What happened to Google today?”

  1. 1 Natalie January 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Well said!

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