Gear We Like
SOPA and PIPA: a traveler’s view
It’s all over the web right now. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011), two bills which are in the US House and Senate, are all the talk in the tech world. Some of the largest sites online such as Google, Wikipedia, WordPress, & Craigslist are making noise about the threat of censorship on the web.
If you’re a traveler, you may have faced the wrath of internet censorship already.
Maybe you tried to access Facebook in Vietnam and got nothing.
Maybe you tried to read about Tibetan independence while you were in China.
Maybe you were in Egypt while the riots of Arab Spring were going on.
… and these are just a few of the more popular countries for travelers where you might run into censorship. Read Wikipedia’s list from Reporters Without Borders here or if you can’t access it, then the cached entry here.
As travelers, we can sometimes take inconveniences like this for granted. If you’re just passing through Vietnam, not being able to access Facebook for a couple of days might make for a funny blog post to your friends back home.
The citizens in these countries don’t get the same chance to leave to have access to information. Many don’t even know they are being censored. We take for granted that we can listen to (or speak) opposing viewpoints.
We just can’t trust people who think the internet is “a series of tubes” to make the right decisions about the internet. The median age of a senator in the USA is 62 years old. These are (some of) the people deciding the future of the internet. My father is on the lighter side of 60, and he’s a smart guy. He knows almost nothing about the internet (sorry Dad).
If you are an American, please sign the petition here.
If you want a thorough technical breakdown on what these bills mean from a sysadmin, check out this entry on reddit.
(the future internet won’t have an “UNCENSOR THIS PAGE” button)