Starting today and for the foreseeable future the “Continuations” at the top of this blog will be covered with a call to Stop Censorship. If you read yesterday’s Tech Tuesday post on networking or are familiar with the history of the architecture of the Internet you know that a lack of global control was a core principle behind the design of TCP/IP. That has been key to the amazing innovations we have seen come from the Internet, including its amazing power for social and political change.
Everywhere we look hierarchical control systems are being replaced by decentralized networks operating on the Internet. Whether it is the funding of creative projects (Kickstarter), learning (Skillshare), publishing (Wattpad), selling (Etsy) and many more (disclosure: all the companies mentioned are in the Union Square Ventures portfolio). This change in the world clearly isn’t lost on politicians who are increasingly nervous about what the Internet will do to their power — not just in dictatorships in far away places but also in mainstream democracies, which explains Sarkozy’s desire to “civilize” the Internet as expressed during EG8.
Here at home in the US, politicians are finding convenient cover for their desire to control the Internet in pretending that draconian interventions are necessary to protect the recording, movie and publishing industries. These industries have already been collectively left in the dust both in terms of employment and market capitalization by the Internet economy and it doesn’t make economic sense to hamper Internet innovation on their behalf. But pointing to rogue foreign sites that allow for the pirating of copyrighted works is perfect, if what you are really trying to accomplish are restrictions on free speech on the Internet.
The time to take a stance and head off the legislation known as PIPA (Senate) or SOPA (House) is now. Everyone who operates a web site should add the “Stop Censorship” graphic over their site logo. You can get the code over at American Censorship. Let Congress know that the people are not going to accept censorship of the Internet.
If you don’t know what these bills are about, the following video provides the perfect summary: