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Bill threatens Internet freedom

Blogging has become a lifestyle for many people. Some devote all their time, effort and credentials into running these blogging outlets. Used for an assortment of purposes on the Internet; Be it a personal interest, educational or professional outlet, blogging is very existent, and widely-used.

Now with the introduction of a new act, the freedom that bloggers feel might be ripped away from them as all copyrighted material will be closely monitored.

The PROTECT IP Act leaves a serious dent on Internet freedom and free speech rights.

Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and theft of Intellectual Property, the PROTECT IP Act of 2011, focuses on granting the U.S. government and copyright holders additional power to gain access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods,” as stated in the Senate Bill S.968.

In laymen’s terms, the U.S. government wants to censor search engines and websites.

According to this bill average Americans who religiously tweet or reblog images of their favorite brands, bands, artists, celebrities and other popular subjects as a hobby will no longer be able to express their fanaticism, tastes or style as an individual.

Holding a simple discussion on copyrighted material should be allowed. It is an exercise of our very first amendment of free speech and since technology has evolved, so shall the circumstances of free speech.

People should be able to share copyrighted material online as long as they are not using it harmfully or using it in a way that suggests that it is their own. There is a difference between talking about copyrighted material and claiming it.

The fair use act which is already used to benefit public forums allows bloggers to use copyrighted material for commentary purposes.

The PROTECT IP Act is in reality, a form of censorship.

If Bill S.968 goes into place, sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and most other social networks may go into extinction. People will have nothing much left to blog about.

The Department of Justice could force search engines, browsers and service providers to block users’ access to websites, and eliminate any trace of their existence on the Internet.

Under the new proposal, the search engines, Internet providers, credit card companies, and even ad networks would all have cut off access to foreign “rogue sites.”

On a transparent note, Yahoo!, eBay and Google are the top big-named search engines opposing the legislation. Internet entrepreneurs including Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley signed a letter to Congress expressing their opposition to the legislation.

The Act is still under surveillance, as will everything else in America be if it were to pass.

The protection of intellectual property is nothing to be dismissed. However, it should be tackled with a more thorough effort, specific to each case, and not in an omnipotent, authoritarian manner in which banning the sharing of copyrighted material is the solution. Because banning anything today is usually never an effective solution.

As Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily (implementing) simple solutions to complex problems.”

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