Yesterday marked a unique day when it comes to the history and direction of the Internet, as there was mass shutdown and protests with regards to SOPA and PIPA. For those of you who don’t know what SOPA and PIPA are, we recommend reading this little overview. Put simply, if these controversial bills pass, it would change the nature of the Internet as we know it. SOPA and PIPA are measures which would allow the government to punish and restrict copyright violation in ways previously unheard of, which would theoretically curtail much of the illicit activity on the Internet.
Major websites shut down or protest the bills, raising awareness and shutting off common resources which most of us take for granted. Of special note are sites Reddit, Wikipedia, and WordPress- all Internet giants in their own right. Indeed, the inability to access Wikipedia alone will be of major inconvenience to many people and will likely raise a huge amount of awareness. The opposition of major players such as Google to the bills passing is adding to the furor being felt in the online communities. Some of the primary concerns which have been raised by these groups include the difficulties involved with moderating such a wide field, the international impact of US laws on the matter, and the severe punishments which would accompany copyright violation.
It is important to understand that along with the restrictions and changes which would be implemented with SOPA and PIPA, the backlash of the Internet community as a whole is also going to be an element that will change up how online interactions will go. Online fringe groups have already vowed to disrupt the web and to set up their own “dark” connections to each other in order to circumvent these possible measures. Such threats are made with weight and gravitas, especially given the ruthless way that online fringe groups successfully hacked and disrupted many major services and websites last year.
Put simply, the struggle to influence the direction of the Internet is a war, and it is one that will likely have big ramifications in the following months. Should SOPA and PIPA pass, it would be wise for users and site owners alike to tighten their security in order to prevent possible backlash. When it all comes down to it, the actions being taken today will likely be reflected and amplified in the future, as the government attempts to lock down the Internet and enforce copyright on behalf of interested parties.
Indeed, such efforts in the future could easily interrupt services such as money transfers and insurance coverage to clients in need. Disruption of the web by disgruntled parties also would interfere with banking, payday loans, and other important financial services, causing real world damage.
No matter what your perspective on the matter is, there can be no denying that yesterday was a special one, and is one that will set a lot of precedent for the way that the web will be directed in the future. As everyone relies on the Internet for every type of service now, such changes stand to completely change online interactions and the rules of conduct which govern common use.
What are your thoughts on SOPA and PIPA and the future of the Internet? Share away in our comments section!