Google joins protests against online piracy bills
Groups protesting against proposed anti-piracy legislation in the U.S. will be joined by Google today to voice their discontent.
Two controversial U.S.bills -- SOPA (Stop online piracy act) and PIPA (Protect IP act) -- will attempt to stop the distribution of copyrighted material by giving the U.S. Attorney General the ability to shut down websites accused of piracy and illegal activity.
The bills have been denounced as censorship by some, forcing search engines, like Google, to alter search results and exclude those which have been deemed to include "banned" files as well as to refuse ads for blacklisted websites.
“Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” a Google spokesperson told U.S. political news site TalkingPointsMemo.
Instead of targeting the actual individual receiving the files, the intent of the bills is to take down the websites hosting them. It would be “the effective equivalent of blowing up every road, bridge, and tunnel in New York to keep people from getting to one bootleg stand in Union Square — but leaving the stand itself alone,” according to tech writer Nilay Patel at The Verge.com
Activities as simple and commonplace as streaming clips on YouTube, downloading favourite music and movies, torrenting and sharing files, would be blocked entirely. Some see the legislation as stifling creativity and expression, hindering their artistic and economic freedom.
The anti-SOPA and PIPA movement, initiated by Reddit last Tuesday, has gained momentum through the participation of such organizations and websites as Mozilla and Wordpress. Wikipedia announced it would “black out” the English version of its website for 24 hours to protest.
Google has decided to include a link on its main page for American users, leading those interested to information on SOPA and PIPA, in protest of their consideration by the government. Google has declined to provide any actual information on the link itself, but the company's support provides a great boost to those already fighting against the legislation.
Google was the sole tech company invited as a witness against the legislation at a hearing in November. Katherine Oyama, Google's representative at the hearing, warned "that the bill sets a precedent in favor of Internet censorship and could jeopardize our nation’s cybersecurity.”