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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Staff Editorial

SOPA threatens to shut down the Internet

Students who tried to log on to Wikipedia on Wednesday should have noticed something curious — it was blacked out. Those who tried to log onto WordPress, TwitPic, Reditt or Mozilla would have noticed a similar phenomenon — even Google had a curious black bar over its icon.

Websites that participated in the 24-hour Internet blackout described it as a political statement. It was a way for them to indicate their opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, a piece of legislation working its way through Capitol Hill that would radically reshape the Internet.

SOPA is a bill that is designed to crack down on Internet copyright infringement. It would give the US government the right to shutter sites that contain or contribute to the trading of pirated material.

Cracking down on pirated material is not necessarily a bad thing, but surely there is a way for Congress to accomplish that goal that does not include crippling the Internet.

Individuals who went to sites that were blacked out yesterday got a glimpse of what could happen if the SOPA becomes law and users are blocked from infringing sites — sites that could be shut down without a trial or a traditional court ruling under SOPA.

Wikipedia commented on SOPA in an ominously written message on their English homepage: “For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

Contact your local representative and let him or her know how you feel about SOPA. Together our voices will count.

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