Why SOPA/PIPA are Bad.
So I’m writing this from upstairs which means I’ll be warmer which I hope means I won’t have the “cold hands / short post” problem. The only downside to writing up here is I have to magnify the screen by 2x to see anything that I’m writing. However beggars can’t be choosers and I’ll take the steadily rising 63 degrees of our bedroom over the 57 degrees downstairs.
So lets see, why is SOPA bad? Well there aren’t all that many reasons really. There are probably tons of smaller reasons, different pieces of it you could pick apart that make it truly diabolical but it is the macro level that I am concerned with and it’s a failure of politics in general. The first thing is the name, you can generally tell what a bill won’t do or won’t be by the name. The Patriot Act was not Patriotic, Quite a few Clean Air bills actually made regulations lighter, and in this particular case this would not (in any way) stop or even hinder Piracy.
Crime is an interesting thing, it exists solely to answer a niche that is not properly addressed by the legal world. If you want to see what happens when something mundane is made illegal look at Prohibition. It didn’t stop anything and ended up being the foundation for modern organized crime. The next time you hear about a kid getting shot by a gang keep in mind that that stems from conservative laws passed in the early 1900’s (hope I’m getting my history correct, forgive me I can’t double check easily on this PC at this time). In the modern world we have the war on drugs which has single handedly cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people (speaking conservatively) and incarcerated thousands of Americans for little more than carrying and using drugs. You might think this is fair but imagine if Alcohol or Tobacco was a federal offense starting tomorrow.
How would you feel about that? I know personally I wouldn’t care but for TONS of (unknowing) hypocrites this would be an extreme inconvenience and likely a one way ticket to jail or criminal activity. So we’ll keep that in mind. Piracy itself exists because a market is not being met, Valve came along with steam and has made millions by (to a point) answering this market. Others are digging deeper graves and only worsening it.
Here is the second problem: Regulation of illegal activities doesn’t really work, regulation works best when it is dealing with something obvious and easily quantifiable. Clean Air, Clean Water, Factory Conditions, all these things that you could easily and safely examine are regulatory concerns. But when you are stuck with something that is shady and dangerous you will find no success in regulating it. What you must do is find the root cause and eliminate that (and I always suggest by satisfying it in a positive and legal way).
Then there is the biggest problem and the thing that so many people overlook. This law is not by itself ultimately evil it is what this law will open the doors to. Think legally speaking of precedence. This is where judges look at previous rulings and use that to help them decide on modern cases. This is used a LOT in politics. Politicians create a small law, then enhance it a little bit each year or even in under a year. Have you been to an airport lately? That whole charade went from profiling, to x-rays of all your stuff (including shoes), to full body pat downs or full body x-rays. It’s these progressive increases in restrictions that are so nefarious and often overlooked. But they must not be. This is extremely important, you must not ever let a law be judged on its own merits. You must always look at a law for what doors it opens towards the future.
I don’t care what country you are in this is incredibly important. Tell a friend, I know this is some small website on the edge of the internet universe but this is something that should never be understated. This is why SOPA is extremely dangerous. IT would start with some minor oppression of information and as soon as it is politically safe to expand upon it they would. Before you know it there would without a doubt be steps taken to make lawmakers immune from reference on the internet.
This might sound silly but consider what the internet represents. This is the first and possibly last free information trade global network. This represents the absolute only chance that humanity has to potentially better itself and escape the archaic systems of its past. Much like postal mail is dying to the Email, the internet will someday make many old world systems obsolete.
In the US look at what this has done for presidential and congressional voting races? Information on the shady dealings of these people are exposed in weeks or days, not months or years. The façade they put forth is quickly crushed beneath the incredible combined researching power of the citizenry.
Wars will never be the same, politics will never be the same, and truly no other facet of dominance will be. Acts like SOPA are important to people who enjoy the privileges of a closed information market. These acts will continue to be proposed for as long as is needed and they will continue pushing to get them through in sneakier and sneakier ways (perhaps hiding it in the NDAA the next time that comes around).
If the internet is not censored, quickly, there will be a considerable problem for bad people. This is something other countries (Iran, China, etc) have realized. This is something people outside of those countries should never laugh at. It’s a serious possibility and one very important reason to always fight these kind of bills. The moment one gets through it will be abused.
I’m hopeful however, unlike the airports the internet is something that the vast majority of Americans use to some degree. Some once it starts getting broken people will likely stand up. As a final note, ANYTIME a bill says it exists to “save American jobs” it will most certainly kill them. It’s not about saving them in the grand scheme, but saving the specific ones that paid for the bill.