CENSORSHIP TODAY: HOW WILL THE INTERNET BE
Abstract: Until now, the internet has existed as an uncharted, unregulated entity that has been independent of almost all government and regulation. Sites like thepiratebay.se, a website that distributes pirated movies and music in direct conflict with American laws, are used by Americans daily. Thepiratebay.se has not merely existed but thrived, and may continue to do so, as the website is hosted and run in Switzerland, outside of US jurisdiction. Currently, however, the internet is in a state of chaos: governments across the globe are banding together in an attempt to regulate the internet and impose a set of restrictions that impose “real world” laws onto the internet. These laws aim to reduce the amount of illegally obtained intellectual property through the internet, but have implications much larger than file sharing. Internet communities protested this censorship of speech, as was seen in the internet blackout protest to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) acts. During the blackout protest, popular websites protested government censorship of the internet. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has replaced the SOPA and PIPA bills, and has been signed by many large nations, including the United States. This bill, designed to internationally protect intellectual property, will monitor internet activity through Internet Service Providers, who will monitor links and servers for traces of intellectual property. Consequentially, websites that thrive off of user-submitted content (sites like facebook, youtube, twitter, and reddit) will be forced to self-censor its own content, else it be responsible for the pirated content stored on its servers. This paper investigates the contrast between the current uses of censorship and censorship as a tool in the past. Censorship has been commonly seen as a method of consolidating power. This is rarely seen in current governments, as censorship has taken a different role in modern culture. Current censorship builds off of the foundation of intellectual property and theft-prevention; this paper explores the contrast between this and the censorships and libricides of the past.
Keywords: the internet, legislation, censorship, intellectual property, theft
RYAN RINALDI is an honors student at the University of Washington. Although he is an undeclared major, he considers majoring in Computer Science.