I really hate having anything to do with politics mentioned on this blog, but this is so bad that attention needs to be drawn to it.
There are two bills going through congress that will allow America’s government to censor websites exactly like China and Iran do – via a new blacklist of “bad sites”. The reason argued for this is to stop piracy by allowing copyright holders to call for any site which they think is infringing, to be immediately taken off the net without proof. We feel that nothing can justify taking away free speech. The very thing that has made the internet such a powerful force for good in the world is its absolute freedom of speech. People can expose the wrongdoings of those in power, and the internet is a tool that for the first time in history, prevents their voice from being silenced. The last thing we need is america, the “land of the free”, to establish a dangerous precedent of censorship as a default – a precedent which other countries are certain to follow.
Furthermore, because there is no “due process”, that is, because sites would be taken down immediately without having a chance to prove they’re innocent, this would destroy innovation on the internet. Because there’s no due process, it doesn’t matter if you’re guilty or not; if some competitor with more money just doesn’t like you, they can get you taken off the net by making a false accusation. That’s fatal for any internet company – it turns off their entire business and income instantaneously, and could be repeated as many times as necessary to drive them bankrupt. Virtually every internet service we use today; google, facebook, youtube, twitter, deviantart, itunes, netflix, anything – could not have started up in an environment with these kinds of laws on the books. Some better-heeled company that didn’t like them, would have shut them down. In fact, all of these companies did receive severe legal threats from the entertainment industry as they matured – the MPAA and RIAA have repeatedly stated that they wish these companies/services didn’t exist (especially Youtube and iTunes). They only survived because there were no laws like this on the books.
At the time of this writing, these bills have received some temporary setbacks, but they are not dead yet. Do whatever you can to destroy them – free speech for the human race, and everything you like about the internet, is at stake. You can read more about these bills, and what you can do to stop them, on wikipedia. And yes, you can do stuff about them even if you don’t live in the US – follow that link.