Internet Freedom

By , Reno, NV
Right now the internet is under attack and along with that our first amendment and our privacy. The internet is a virtual world where information travels through every day. People express themselves every day by socializing, discussing politics, playing games, researching, learning, watching videos, blogging and sharing files. But now companies and the government are trying to control content on the internet so that the people can be controlled and manipulated. Privacy on the internet is being violated and some websites or online content are being shut down or blocked from users. The internet creates and impact to the real world as it connects people around the world.

On January 19th, 2012 hundreds of millions worth of data files were lost forever when Megaupload, a file hosting site was seized by the FBI under charges of Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Conspiracy to Commit Copyright infringement, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and Criminal Copyright Infringement. The CEO of Megaupload, Kim Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand.
The seizure of Megaupload had a large impact on the internet even though it had four percent of the internet traffic seeing how large the internet is today. Hundreds of millions of people lost access to the file hosting site and that caused an outrage on the internet. Also the raid on Megaupload created a shock in the file sharing industry and some file sharing websites disabled file sharing, blocked access to American users, and placed download rate caps on some users.
A hacker group named Anonymous has claimed credit to retaliation and shut down and defaced many websites such as the Department of Justice, Recording Industry of America, Motion Picture Association of America and Universal Music. Besides the shutdown of Megaupload Anonymous claimed the entertainment industry are slowly trying to take away our rights by misleading our government through lobbyists to take away our Internet rights so that they can make larger profit off people and the government wants control of the internet as they can watch over us.

Today because the internet is under attack; our privacy and constitution is being usurped and slowly taken away. Companies such as Google and Facebook are selling or storing personal information for purposes so that companies can use that information to make larger profits and these companies use marketing research by installing tracker cookies to track your internet activity. Then they can give this information to the government to monitor and track what you say, what you are doing and where you are. The FBI wants to develop software that monitors social media such as Facebook and Twitter and also House Subcommittees wanted the Department of Homeland Security to monitor social media. The government’s defense is that if something is public, then they can investigate. The internet should be a free place not controlled by any government, or corporation and is a place to broadcast our voice and influence.

The internet must remain a place to speak out against oppressive government. Recently during the Arab Spring many people relied on the internet to voice their opinion of the various oppressive countries in the Middle East. There were people living within these oppressive Middle Eastern countries as well as people all over the world, all voicing their opinions and lending support. Many governments were criticized and were protested by their own citizens and in response many of these Middle Eastern countries blocked or shutdown their internet, but that didn’t stop the people in the Middle East from protesting the people learned to circumvent the blocks by using programs such as proxies. Many Middle Eastern governments were forced to submit and were overthrown and replaced. There is still conflict in the Middle East today but at least the world knows about the issue as the can affect the world. This indefatigable protest is laudable as it inspired other areas of the world to protest and voice their opinions about their government.

One of the main reasons the internet is under attack by such bills such as the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) is due to the misunderstanding of piracy. Piracy is one of the most occurring crimes on the internet which are on some websites such as Megaupload and The Pirate Bay. Many companies say that they lose billions of dollars and jobs due to “piracy” but that is a misunderstood statement to the public that I rebuff. The reasons that people pirate is that they are unwilling to support the company with money, can’t afford the product, wanting to remove digital rights management as they can affect the satisfaction of the product, and trying out the product. So why would the pirates still buy the product if they are unwilling to buy it in the first place? Also won’t if the pirates try out the product before they buy it can also help in sales not hurt the companies? The websites that have piracy on them cannot control millions and millions of data that are being uploaded and downloaded everyday as that would be impossible.

Many people on the internet love to share their work such as videos on Youtube such as videos of them dancing, singing, parodies, commentaries and playing games only for them to be ruined due to copyright claim by the entertainment industry because the video has a song. That is unreasonable because that is free advertisement of the song and no one would download a song with another source of audio in the video that would be interfering with the music. The culture of the internet would be harmed if people could not freely express themselves on the internet.
Our rights are under attack and if we don’t stop we would be controlled and manipulated by our own government or other companies. We should not lose our rights we should protect them by such means as fighting for our rights on the internet using our voice to assail and creating petitions. One day we may wake up wondering where have our rights gone.





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