Only this time it’s not a catchy Destiny’s Child song. No, it’s congress, and as School House Rock taught me, a bill is what precedes a law. And many of them seem to be going through congress as of late. Well, not all that many more than usual, but more that are relevant to the interest of the websites I visit (Reddit).
The most prominent is SOPA: The Stop Online Piracy Act. I’ll assume two things: one is that you know of SOPA, and two is that if you don’t, you live under a rock. A large and wifi-free rock. Partially due to the efforts of websites like Google, Wikipedia, and Reddit, and partially due to the bill being a piece of shit, SOPA was dismissed from the House shortly after a massive Internet blackout and representative contact campaign held earlier this month.
But it seems that when it comes to legislation about the interwebs, the internet is Hercules and bills are the Hydra (if you don’t get that reference, you need to brush up on your Disney films or, like, the Roman myth it was based on).
So SOPA is down. Awesome. Are you ready to fight another round, champ, ’cause it’s not done yet. How about PIPA? The Protect Intellectual Properties Act is the sister to SOPA running amok in the Senate. Harry Reid, thankfully, put a hold on the voting of this bill, which would allow censorship of the Internet in the same regards that SOPA would have. Although, in light of the massive reaction to the aforementioned blackouts, voting was postponed, the bill is still there, hanging out in the senate, threatening intellectual properties far more than it would protect them.
Oh, and then we have ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This one’s fun because it’s not an American bill. It’s an international treaty. The intention of this agreement is to stop international online piracy by creating a new governing agency, which would function something like the World Trade Organization or United Nations. The shitty part of this is that means that American properties and Internet freedoms are subject to an outside source un-beholden to our Constitution. What’s even worse than that is that the agreement can be ratified through executive agreement, so it won’t even fall to a the small amount of representation the common citizen gets when their elected official chooses to ignore their beliefs.
Oh, and people can look through your electronics at boarder crossings in search of piracy.
"We're still here, matey."
Congress people are trying to win dirty with this next one. Protect Children from Online Pornographers. Well, who doesn’t want to do that? No one really want’s a nine-year-old searching My Little Pony pictures to accidentaly find some Jenna Jamison artistry. And we definately don’t want children to be the Jenna Jamisons in the artistry. But if you actually read what this bill proposes, you’ll see what the name of it is really doing: pandering. What this bill actually does is track the fuck out of Iinternet users. The basic principle of this bill is “stalk first, ask questions later.” It’s an information blitz that “would treat every Internet user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech rights of every American,” says the magazine The Atlantic.
The big thing with this specific bill is that, if passed, the only thing the government need do in order to get access to your Internet history is ask for it. Oh, and hey, you don’t even need to be under suspicion of child pornography, just under suspicion for any crime. And the police don’t need probable cause.
And these are just the beginning. There is, and will be no shortage of bills attempting to, intentionally or not, limit the freedoms of the Internet. The saddest part is that the people who write and support these bills often know nothing of how the Internet functions. Which sucks, cause that’s what’s being affected. And do you know what’s worse? When asked why they don’t know about the Internet, a good deal of the legislators declare it’s because they are not nerds. Really. Watch Jon Stewart’s compilation of legislators insulting anyone who has a basic knowledge of the Internet.
So basically, at this point you should be mad.
And if you’re really mad, you can contact the appropriate representative and tell him that you are a constituent, have voted for him, and would appreciate if he would vote against these legislations if given the chance. I did. I got a lovely email back from Loebsack.
I’ll even make it easy for you. Here are the contact forms for Dave Loebsack, Tom Harkin, and Chuck Grassley.
So go. Email, Tweet, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, yell, cry, threaten people with calls from your mother. Whatever you want to do to.
Image from: theredphoenixapl.org and deadliestfiction.wikia.com