Caitlin Woolsey

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Wiki Article #2

Explanations of SOPA, PIPA, and Anonymous

  • SOPA and PIPA
    • SOPA and PIPA are bills that were designed to stop online piracy, and to protect intellectual property. They are essentially the same bill and are both designed to eliminate piracy, especially from foreign sites. The bills give power to the Office of the Attorney General, who can then take action against these foreign sites. The issue with this comes with what could be considered a foreign site. Under the bill the site is domestic if it has a domestic domain name. Sites that are “domestic” tend to have .org, .com, or .us, but that is not always indicative of if a site is actually domestic. For instance, The Pirate Bay has a .org domain, but is actually a foreign site, as it was created in and is from Sweden. However, under these guidelines, it is domestic. There is a lot of controversy as to whether these bills will help, or will limit the internet, because of how vaguely they are written. This could hurt small sites staring up because these bills are so general they could come at you for practically anything. So in a way these bills may end up creating censorship rather than eliminating piracy.
  • Anonymous
    • Anonymous is a collective of hackers. Famous for the use of the Guy Fawkes mask that was used in “V for Vendetta”(a movie that was anti-government). They use the internet as a tool to bring about change, bring things to light, or sometimes just mess around. The hacker collective work outside the law with the help of the internet. Anyone can be a part of Anonymous, they don’t have any center of command, or any guidelines, they just are. As The New Yorker article “The Masked Avengers” says “Anons tend to rebel against institutional structure”. Parts of Anonymous are more influential than others, and have had a hand recently in major changes in the global community. A few years back in Tunisia parts of the collective worked to help overthrow the dictator and to facilitate communications between members of the opposition. They came from humble origins, growing out of a site called 4chan that was made for entertainment.

Anonymous and Internet Privacy

In a direct act against SOPA and the closing down of the Megaupload file-sharing site, Anonymous led a serious of attacks on websites for organizations that were involved. The attack went as far as taking down the FBI’s website. They used distributed denial of service attacks, also known as DDoS. The attacks are not just limited to the United States and SOPA, but are worldwide, and on all similar instances where governments have tried to introduce anti-piracy measures that could be seen at limiting the internet. DDoS is not the only means of attack either, they say that they also have hacked into and stolen documents from countries like Poland.

Edward Snowden's Influence on Internet Privacy

Edward Snowden was a “contractor” working for the NSA as a systems administrator. He had access to many highly classified documents and programs that he felt needed to be shared with the public. These documents and programs showed that the government was closely watching and recording information about its citizens, without their knowledge. The government’s response was that they were doing these things to protect the people from acts of terror, and that in monitoring everything they could prevent terrorist attacks. Snowden felt it was important to let the people know that they had been misled by the government, and that the Iraq war was started on “false pretenses”. These false pretenses could again be used by the government to cause another conflict, and do further harm.

While there are bills like PIPA and SOPA that are there to “protect” our intellectual property, the information released by Snowden shows that the government is also covertly taking that information from us. SOPA has also lead the way for other bills, like CISPA, which is supposed to protect not from piracy, but from “cyber threats”. However, they have the same impact in giving the government more power to regulate and control the internet, whether it’s stopping you from seeing something or taking personal information from you. Like SOPA and PIPA, CISPA in written in such a general way that it offers almost too much control to the government in deciding what is a threat, and what actions it can take against said threat. As time goes on the role the internet and technology play in our lives gets more expansive and complicated. With this expansion comes threats to peoples privacy and freedom by those who try to regulate the internet, and in some cases this threat comes from our government.

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