Depending on your level of involvement in things internet-political and techy, you may or may not be aware of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) now making its way through congress. Introduced by representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), this bill mandates widespread monitoring of internet activity and has the potential to cause the internets as we know them to be fundamentally altered as blogs and other social networking sites are shut down for supposed acts "piracy." You can read more about the act at the Organization for Transformative Works, TechCrunch, and the American Library Association. The letter Hanna and I sent to our representatives is heavily cribbed from the ALA talking points.
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18 December 2011
Dear Representative Capuano,
As librarians, bloggers, and registered voters in Allston, Massachusetts, we are writing to ask you to vote against the proposed Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), H.R. 3261.
This bill, if it becomes law, will cause a widespread “chilling effect” on use of the Internet for commerce, communication, and participation in democratic society. The bill strikes at copyright protections currently granted to libraries and educational institutions by creating the possibility of criminal persecution of institutions and institutional representatives. for online streaming and other use of online resources in library and classroom space. SOPA's requirements to monitor internet traffic violate free speech and privacy protections and may create new forms of government surveillance of private activities within and outside the United States. The predicted consequences of SOPA are far-reaching. If passed, the potential for new jobs, innovative new ventures, and economic growth will be stifled.
Citizen engagement in online spaces depends on the ability to share and discuss a wide variety of media content across multiple social networking and other Internet platforms. SOPA will effectively shut down the vibrant creativity and vital political discourse that has been made possible by the World Wide Web. On behalf of ourselves, our online community of bloggers, and our library patrons, we ask you to vote against H.R. 3261, and support alternative ways for protecting legitimate copyright interests online.
Anna J. Cook & Hanna E. Clutterbuck