Here’s an essay I wrote last semester. Let me know what you think.
The War Against a Free Internet
There is a war ongoing that far predates our current conflicts in the Middle East and the proxy wars that engulfed the previous generations. In fact, this war is as old as the reigns of empires and nation states: the war against free communication. Communication of non-popular beliefs, conspiracy, and secretive information have been the target of big-government throughout the ages from the burning of the library of Alexandria, to Roman iron-fist legislature, and Nazi-book burnings the control of information is a keen objective of the eras elite and the internet, the most current iteration of information sharing does not escape the wondering eye of government. Over the past year the House of Representatives and the Senate are proposing legislature that will allow the government to monitor, terminate, and control any website or database that possesses any copyrighted material (H.R. 3261) To many, this is a slippery slope that will lead to complete government censorship of the internet and the end of the last free medium of speech (Zuchora-Walske 9). The internet should remain a free tool for enterprise, communication, and exchange of free thought without any government intervention.
In 2010, the House of Representatives attempted to pass the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), but it failed to pass. A year later another bill would be drafted in the Senate: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act or ProtectIP Act. With this act the government would be targeting any website or database that features any copyrighted content (Newman). Now this seems innocent enough, however, when one looks at the websites that promote and use copyrighted material the impact of such legislature is drastic due to the powers granted to the government. Youtube features millions of copyrighted tracks uploaded by users for free entertainment, Google lists every website on the web including those that promote such content, and even on Facebook users post song lyrics, videos, music, and other copyrighted medias. With PIPA, each one of those websites and hundreds more would be subject to control, speculation, and complete deletion from cyberspace.
Soon after, the House of Representatives created a companion bill the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which expanded the ability of law enforcement and government officials to pursue those who break international and domestic copyright and counterfeit laws. This legislature bears the risk of potentially destroying the internet and its values to the consumers and users of the world. The capabilities of recording a damning factual video of a government official or corporation to educate the people of wrong-doing is one of utter importance that has been lost on other media like television and mainstream radio. However, the internet allows any individual to voice opinions and make statements both correct and ridiculous. This power of freedom is being threatened under the guises of copyright protection and of influencing the growth of creativity and private property.
This sudden lust for control of the internet is not a new venture by big-government, in fact, in other nations strict censorship has already ruled their Internet Service Providers for nearly two decades. North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, The Peoples Republic of China, and Syria are some of the most powerful contenders that restrict their peoples from content on the internet that is deemed inappropriate or that demonizes their current governmental infrastructure. While strict internet control has not fully settled in the Western world as of yet, the East has long since seen such control and thousands of bloggers and internet-deviants are imprisoned every year in China due to evading such censorship. Since the explosion of the dot-com bubble and creation of social-networking sites the government has been keen to achieve some sort of control of the information super highway. In 2009, a bill was proposed that would give the president of the United States emergency control of the internet in case of a “cyber-security emergency” (McCullagh). What sort of emergency could warrant such martial-law of the inter-webs?
In late February, the FBI threatened to shut down a number of DNS servers due to a malicious virus effecting government servers. The shut-down was scheduled for March 8th, but was successfully averted without causing mass hysteria for millions of users without internet access. The “culprits” to such a powerful virus were six Estonian men.(Couts) Other emergencies which may deem a tyrannous response by the United States government may arrive from accused cyber-terrorism outfits like Anonymous and Lulzsec which have been responsible for the web take-downs of giant corporations like Visa, Sony, MasterCard, and the CIA (Jenkins A11). Some internet journalists like Alex Jones even speculate that much of this “cyber-terrorism” is merely a series of false-flag attacks to sway the public opinion to accept such ludicrous bills and allow government to seize the internet. Others take it even farther that the government is waging “media-wars” to attempt to stop the viral-Ron Paul Campaign that has garnered him supporters across the nation and any future candidates that oppose the status-quo (Holland).
However, stealing the intellectual and creative property of any person is against the law and replicating or sharing said content for commercial gain is immoral, unethical, and generally no different than theft in “the real world”. From face value the proposed bills by Congress seem nothing more than a catalyst to protect and secure the properties of citizens on the internet (Kizza 161-163). Maybe that’s what it really is and the over-hype and speculation is simply the product of over-active imaginations and fear-mongering. No where in any of the bills does it state that the government has the intention or the ability to limit the flow of ideas and free-speech and all text revolves around copyright infringement. All assumptions and speculations are derived from the study of history and from eye-witness testimony of the elite and their plans of internet control.
The internet is a place of bountiful knowledge so great that no other medium before it or after will ever carry such a significance for the world. Inside its cyber-walls anyone may reveal secrets, conjure others to revealing conspiracies, and even overthrow a corrupt government. With such limitless access, the government is attempting to keep the power from the people and to quiet the online whispers. Like Edmund Burke said, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”. If the people of the United States and our brothers and sisters across the pond sit idle as immoral legislature dictates our ability to be honest and on-point then we will fall victim to ignorance and foolishness and be nothing more than cattle to those who hold the prod.
Couts, Andrew. “FBI could take down Internet for millions on March 8.” Yahoo. Yahoo, 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. ;.
Holland, Ron. “The Secret Media War of 2012.” Prison Planet. Alex Jones, 28 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. ;.
Jenkins, Holman W., Jr. “Worry About the Hackers You Don’t See.” Wall Street Journal 21 Mar. 2012, sec. A: A11. Print.
Kizza, Joseph Migga. Civilizing the Internet. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers, 1998. 161-163. Print.
McCullagh, Declan. “Bill would give president emergency control of Internet.” Cnet News. N.p., 28 Aug. 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.
Newman, Jared. “SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts.” PC World. PC World Communications Inc., 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. ;.
Stop Online Piracy Act. Pub. L. 107-H.R.3261. Fall 2011. Library of Congress. United States government, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. ;.
Zuchora-Walske, Christine. Internet Censorship Protecting Citizens or Trampling Freedom? . 9. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.