As Free As We Fight To Be

<br><P>Shradha Gyawali</P>

Jan. 30, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 05 No.-14 Jan. 27-2012 (Magh 13,2068)<BR>

It’s the beginning of the end, or it could be. Americans take pride in themselves for being “free.” But when jaw dropping legislations like Utah’s HB 477 and the U.S Congress’ lovely SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), also known as House Bill 3261, a bill that was introduced in the US House of Representatives on October 26, 2011 by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith, and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) come along, I am reminded that we can only be as free as we fight to be. SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress.


Last year when Utah’s legislature passed a law (HB 477) that restricted public access to government records, intense public outcry caused Utah lawmakers to repeal the bill. I am drawing parallels between HB 477 and SOPA and PIPA because I have to believe the same thing will happen. I have to believe that the people of this country will cry out, rise up and push back at governments and corporations that attempt to restrict the rights of individuals.


To put it simply, SOPA and PIPA are overly broad bills that would change the infrastructure of the internet, putting corporations over individuals in the name of copyright protection.


These bills severely inhibit our right to free speech, and they could effectively shut down many of our favorite and most-used websites, including You Tube and Facebook.


I, with a few of my friends, wrote a letter to the Utah’s senators about these bills using prpvox.com, a website that helps constituents communicate easily with their representatives in the congress. I have to quote one of the many concerned letter writing citizens from that site who wrote so eloquently about the damaging effects these bills could have: “the internet is the most shining example of free speech the human race has ever achieved. Its ability to connect anyone in the world without limit is unprecedented. This is only possible because the internet is open, neutral and uncensored. Any attempt to limit or control this freedom by any government, let alone a government founded on the principles of freedom and independence, is nothing short of a travesty.” Thank you, Anonymous 183255 from New Jersey. I could not have put it better myself.


To me, these bills look like the beginning of the end of our free and unrestricted Internet. We cannot let this happen.


This is why, on January 18th, the internet was going on a strike. Hundreds of sites including big guns Wikipedia, Wordpress and Mozilla were shutting down their sites to show congress that we are not willing to give up our rights. January 18th is an inspiring day. It’s a day to fight for what all of us believe in- Freedom.


So, those who didn’t hesitate, joined! They went to AmericanCensorship.org and/ or publicknowledge.org to learn more about SOPA and PIPA and to learn how you can fight.


Freedom wasn’t just given to the founders of the country, and it just hasn’t been given to anyone since then. We have to fight to maintain our rights and freedoms, because if we don’t, they won’t be there any longer.


(Gyawali is at the Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah majoring in Economics. She is a Sophomore, 2nd year.)


 

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