Sunday, February 5, 2012

SOPA as a Uniting Force?

A lot of opinions have been buzzing around about Stop Online Piracy Bill (SOPA) being proposed by a US Congressman from Texas. This bill has far-reaching implications and has the potential to ultimately change the way the internet works.

According to proponents of this bill, this is justified by the existence of so-called "rouge sites." These are sites that are located in nations which have more lenient copyright infringement laws or where enforcement of these laws are relatively less stringent as compared to the United States. The effect of this disparity is that sites such as Megaupload or other Torrent sites continue to proliferate and enable internet users to download just about anything from the internet.

As expected, there is also strong opposition to such a bill. What is surprising is that unlike your typical activist, opposition comes from big corporations whose business success rely mainly on the internet being a loosely censored environment. Corporations such as Google, Youtube and Mozilla are up in arms against the bill. They claim that the SOPA is potentially innovation-killing among many other arguments.

Another group which also protests against the censorship effect of the SOPA is "Anonymous." Anonymous is a loose coalition of "hacktivists" who act in a coordinated manner towards a loosely defined goal. They usually focus their attacks on institutions organize or support anti-digital piracy campaigns. Also unlike the typical activist, it is difficult to identify who is a member of "Anonymous." Oftentimes, a member is just an ordinary computer user who applies the label to himself for any form of action he takes in support of the free trade of information on the internet.

Aside from intermittent arrests by authorities against some "Anonymous" members, the group continues to thrive. One can expect that as some quarters continue to push hard for the passage of the SOPA bill, the total number of "Anonymous" members, though indeterminate at this point, will increase and the group's influence will continue to grow.

Norman Roland E. Ocana III, Entry #6

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