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At the turn of the millennium, there was significant discussion about the importance of the Internet remaining a free and open form of communication and for the expression of ideas.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before the impact of this form of communication became so powerful that small-minded officials and bureaucrats all around the world were harping about the need to reign it in, to control it, to pinch off this attempt by the little guy to have his say.
And this week, the battle has been waged again as on-line agents have sought to raise interest in an effort to control that communication.
As the on-line search giant, Google, noted on Wednesday: “Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.
“Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.
“The Senate will begin voting on Jan. 24. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.”
And Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, took the day off to prove it’s point.
As the Associated Press reported: “Can the world live without Wikipedia for a day? The shutdown of one of the Internet’s most-visited sites is not sitting well with some of its volunteer editors, who say the protest of anti-piracy legislation could threaten the credibility of their work.
“‘My main concern is that it puts the organization in the role of advocacy, and that’s a slippery slope,’ said editor Robert Lawton, a Michigan computer consultant who would prefer that the encyclopedia stick to being a neutral repository of knowledge. ‘Before we know it, we’re blacked out because we want to save the whales.’
“Wikipedia’s English-language site shut down at midnight Eastern Standard Time Tuesday and the organization said it would stay down for 24 hours.
“Instead of encyclopedia articles, visitors to the site saw a stark black-and-white page with the message: ‘Imagine a world without free knowledge.’ It carried a link to information about the two congressional bills and details about how to reach lawmakers.”
Look — most of us have some aspect of the Internet that offends us.
There too much sex, too much violence, too much selling, too much conservatism, too much liberalism. You name it, you could prove your point. In the same way, if you checked you could find similar problems in most methods of communication, because they all involve humans who are messing things up.
But this step forward in communication has been huge.
We are still years away from really understanding just how huge it will be.
What it does NOT need is government intervention at this point, no matter how much we might be tempted to ask for it, if we could get it to do our will.
The problem is, once the government gets involved, you never get it out.
It needs to keep out to begin with, because it will make things worse.
For once, America is in need of genuine leadership.
It will be interesting to find out if we get it for a change.
— Chuck Smith