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Overcoming censorship

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By Josh Campaan
Web Editor

January 18, 2012 has been dubbed the “Internet Blackout”–the day an estimated 7,000 websites took down their services in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect I. P. Act (PIPA).

SOPA was a bill being pushed through congress that would have allowed for domestic websites to be taken down if they were affiliated with or were allowing copyright infringement or piracy. In addition to copyrighted material, the bill also allowed a website to be taken down if they were selling or were affiliated with selling counterfeited goods.

PIPA was very similar to SOPA, but it dealt with foreign websites instead of domestic websites.

The wording of the bills would have allowed for websites like YouTube to be taken down if a copyrighted song were published by one of its users. Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest all would have seen drastic changes to their services in an effort to function without violating these bills.

The U.S. Internet would have been censored. Thankfully, with the success of the Internet Blackout, the Senate and Congress quickly changed their votes on the bills, and the bills were shut down.

This raises a major concern with what is happening within our government. Lobbyists for the music and movie industry were responsible for putting these bills into motion. They bought votes from our government to have these bills put into place so they could further pad their wallets. They would have censored some of the biggest methods of communicating in the U.S. to make a few more dollars.

Mass media will not go down without a fight. In fact, only 1 day after the public said “No” to mass media censoring the internet the website MegaUploads.com was forced into removing many of their services because of piracy concerns.

It was no surprise that we saw internet hacktivist group, Anonymous, finally got involved on the subject and took down the websites several websites.

This outpouring of resistance against the censoring of the Internet has led politicians to believe that supporting censorship would mean the end of their political career. Support of the subject has been deemed “toxic.”

Even with the defeat of SOPA and PIPA another even more threatening situation has begun to unravel. The Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) was recently exposed. ACTA is an agreement among many of the major first world countries that would allow for users to be banned from the internet for participating in copyright-infringement or counterfeiting.

The major problem with ACTA is that most of the public doesn’t even know it exists because it has been kept secret. Did you know that the United States has already signed this agreement?

America is slipping away from a country ruled by the people to a country ruled by the dollar, but we can change this. Let’s make our voice heard this coming election season.