Starting this Wednesday January 18th and possibly again in the future, you might visit this blog and find it partially blacked out.
This will not be due to a technical glitch but rather to a voluntary gesture of support to the growing movement opposing SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, a U.S. initiative aimed at doing much more to the Internet than its title claims by actually breaching the First Amendment and restraining freedom of speech and other essential rights, essentially implementing the first ever DNS-based Internet censorship legislation.
While SOPA and the newcomer PIPA aim at policing the many copyright abuses perpetrated on the Internet, they have deviated far off course to become yet another threat to the very essence of what has become today’s reality: a global, cross-frontier and multicultural web of knowledge and communications. What the U.S. plans on doing is interfering with the very structure of a worldwide network that knows no boundaries nor borders. The drive might have been legitimate, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Are you having trouble imagining the scene? Just picture a web-bed CIA with all its greed, corruption and lust for power, unleashing its abuse upon the Internet under the so called umbrella of Justice and drawing wide, arbitrary eraser strikes across the board, shutting down or blocking all those who don’t pay or bribe for silence, be it the mighty international perps or your neighborhood activist blog.
So as many very prominent websites such as the Wikipedia, Reddit and others are considering joining the blackout on January 18th, this blog will go partially dark too, thanks to the technical wizardry of Cloudflare whose magic I have now been using for over a year. This will only affect your first visit by blocking out long words. Annoying, I know, but so is the loss of our uncensored Internet.
Don’t get me wrong. Copyright piracy is a threat. A small threat. But the Internet being what it is, rather than trying to prevent the unavoidable, we should probably be busy inventing new amendments to copyright laws that play nice with the volatile and universal nature of the net.
Ultimately, I think an unrestricted Internet would enforce one of the philosophies I like best: “If you don’t want to feel shame when your actions are exposed to the world, then don’t do it. If you don’t want your words repeated, don’t say it. If you don’t like your prose copied, don’t write it. And if you can’t stand your movie being watched by all free means, don’t direct it.”
Sure, this could be the cumulative end of privacy, over-inflated artist egos and mega profit. But it could also be the beginning of transparency. And detachment.