SOPA Bill Shelved — What the United States can learn in its wake

“Thank God that’s over.” Government intervention (their act to control the internet) is stalled.

The Stop Online Privacy Act, otherwise known as SOPA, has been “shelved.” This means it’s been put on the back burner until a more appropriate resolution can be decided on. So for the time being, the bill is away from Congress.

The bill, introduced by Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.), was meant to increase the power of the federal government to encompass the Internet. In efforts to curb piracy, Smith’s SOPA targeted sites that illegally uploaded material without paying for the rights to do so.

Those found guilty of violating the terms of the bill would be sentenced to a maximum of five years in federal prison.

Internet giants Google and Wikipedia launched a nationwide rally against SOPA, encouraging patrons to take a stand against the bill. If the bill had passed, popular sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Google would have been targeted.

Proponents of SOPA argued that it was justified in passing such a bill because foreign nations who continue to take advantage of our economy by stealing the material of the music and movie industries would be forced to stop.

Opponents of SOPA argued that the bill was a cap on creativity and in violation of the first amendment right to freedom of speech. As citizens, we have the right to petition against the government against their actions—an action very clearly noted in the United States’ protest.
The bill was shelved last Friday until Congress can come up with a more stable plan for how the bill should be formed.

What we can learn from SOPA

1. We’re united.
Together, the United States amassed more than 14 million votes against the passing of the bill. Articles were written against SOPA. Calls to senators were made voicing protest. We recognized the danger of the bill and organized—very effectively—against the passing of SOPA.

2. The government isn’t afraid to overstep its constitutional authority.
The constitution was hit hard. The government, though well intended in presenting SOPA, trampled on our rights as citizens. They overstepped their bounds on what they can regulate to cover the Internet. This is a dangerous step. If the government sees fit to invade our personal lives by restricting what we watch and post on the Internet, where will they draw the line?

3. There’s a strong need to educate ourselves on government issues.
Knowing what the government can and cannot do is the first step in preventing  lawmakers from overstepping their bounds. SOPA was a great example to demonstrate why keeping in touch with our officials is so important. Without checking them and showing that we, the people of the United States, are the bigger power, the government will continue to trample on us and diminish our rights.

This article is opinion based.

Photo courtesy of Google

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