Members of the House have been holding their first hearings today on SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), a bill that would effectively require sites to police their user-generated content much more tightly and make it possible for them to be sued for said content.
Also today: a grassroots campaign led by groups Demand Progress and Fight for the Future, among others, is putting on American Censorship Day. You might have noticed some websites with a “Stop Censorship” logo at the top; that’s part of this. The campaign also encourages people to write to their congressmen and women to stop the bill from passing.
This video is an explanation of the ways in which SOPA would change the Internet:
Jessica Roy has another good explanation of the effects of SOPA on freedom of information over at 10,000 Words.
We spoke with David Segal, an organizer of American Censorship Day, about today’s campaign. He said that the “Stop Censorship” logo, the code for which is freely available, has been used at least several hundred times in different parts of the Internet, and that over 12,000 people emailed their congresspeople as a result of the campaign.
Segal said that SOPA’s main issue is that it goes against the “underlying structure of internet.”
“It’s not responsible for content that flows through it,” he said. “They don’t need to police things ahead of time. One provision in this legislation is very easily interpreted to mean that sites with user generated content would have to police that kind of thing ahead of time.”