I consider myself a moderately vigilant member of society. I try to keep up with the latest and greatest real bits of news when I can manage to run across them. It’s not an easy task either – unless you know where to look. The popular media certainly isn’t reporting on the issues. So while we are all focused on the holidays, the GOP debates, the latest scandal coming out of Penn State or Cain’s personal life – our civil liberties are being distorted, destroyed, and erased!
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
The other day when I arrived home from work I heard an small explosion and suddenly the power went out. It was pitch black and I had no information. I live a few miles from a military base, so even the idea that perhaps something had happened there crossed my mind. Sitting in the dark I grabbed my iPhone and quickly searched Google for any news in my area: NOTHING. So, I remembered, Twitter! I hoped on Twitter (which I rarely do) and did a quick search for my town. Alas, there were people chattering about what had happened and even a link to a local news reporter sending out updates. I found out that it was a car accident that hit a power line.
In that instant I realized the true power of the Internet and of twitter. I had heard stories of Twitter helping protests and fueling revolutions, but now I really understood the power of it all. Similarly, the internet is virtually the only place on the web I can easily access unbiased information. Blogs, independent news sources, unadvertised podcasts, etc. All a few clicks away – and much better than the popular “profit crazy” media outlets we are used to. (re: SOPA)
However, the very Government we elected – who promised to protect the people – desires to control the very thing that we rely on for information. In an almost China like fashion! Where is the coverage on that and why doesn’t anyone seem to care?
The SOPA legislation will basically allow the government to block users from access certain parts of the internet, force individuals to remove any media that contains copy written material (could include just music playing in the background or reposting of videos). Do we really want the Government controlling where we get our information from – even and especially if it is something they largely disagree with!
This bill is so outrageous that a group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers sent an open letter to members of the United States Congress. (re: An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress) The letter in part said:
“If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.”
Thankfully a few individuals are still concerned with out civil liberties and FREEDOM! So I ask everyone who happens to stumble upon this article to me mindful of the laws opposed on you on your behalf and remind your congressmen, if they limit freedom and liberty, who’s really in charge of this country – when you vote them out of office!
National Defense Authorization Bill H.R 1540
Critiques of this bill argue that the bill can allow the government to detain American citizens indefinitely without due process, grants the President the ability to continue wars without approval, and declare wars on Americans within America itself! (re: Critique of HR 1540) Some people may say that the government would never abuse these privileges and they would only be used to protect Americans, but is it worth the risk? NO! Why the secrecy? Why no coverage of this on the media? Why are our civil liberties becoming so unimportant!
A few highlights:
Congress affirms that —
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
(2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107?40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note);
(3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization, and persons who—
(A) are part of, or are substantially supporting, al?Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
(B) have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and
(4) the President’s authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107?40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities.
If you want to protect our civil liberties as an American then do something about it. Contact your local congressman.