The US Congress is in the process of passing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which aims to stop the illegal piracy of online media like music and movies. But the technology press and Internet firms say it will allow the government to censor the Internet and stifle innovation. Heads of most of the major Internet companies have responded by writing “An open letter to Washington“:
An open letter to Washington
We’ve all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.
However, we’re worried that the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act — which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online — will undermine that framework.
These two pieces of legislation threaten to:
- Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;
- Deny website owners the right to due process of law;
- Give the U.S. Goverment to the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used in China, Malaysia and Iran; and
- Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.
We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.
The letter is signed by seventeen founders or co-founders of the biggest Internet comapnies including Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, and the Internet Archive.