SOPA impedes First Amendment rights

Neen Snowball - Staff Writer

The Internet has become one of the most widely used tools in today’s society. Many college classes, not just online classes, require students to have access to the Internet. Filling out paper applications for a job has become a thing of the past, and without the use of certain websites our lives would be a lot more difficult.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), introduced by U.S. Rep. Lamar S. Smith, is a bill that expands the ability of U.S. law enforcement to stop online trafficking in copyrighted material.

SOAP BOX Neen Snowball Staff Writer

When I first read about this, I thought it sounded innocent because I believe it is wrong to steal other people’s work. However, the more I read of this bill and its sister bill, Protect IP Act (PIPA), the more shocked I became.

If passed, these two bills could shut down entire websites and delete domain names. Wikipedia, Google, Youtube, and Facebook are just a few of the websites these bills would affect.

Our own Georgia Highlands’ website could be affected if just one student is accused of posting copyrighted material. For the government to punish everyone for the sins of a few is ridiculous.

I have no problem with stopping online piracy, but these two bills would cost millions of jobs, stifle innovation and do absolutely nothing to stop piracy. This gives the government more power than needed to impede on our First Amendment right to free speech. If the government would stop coming up with half-baked schemes to take away what few rights we do have and worry about more important issues like the deficit and the failing economy, then perhaps we could rise out of this recession we are in.

Wikipedia and Craigslist were among many websites that protested these two bills by completely blacking out their sites, which caused Congress to delay the bills until the two can be revised. However, I am certain that Congress will come up with similar bills under different names which have the exact same meaning. I, for one, hope these two bills and those like them never pass.