VC Note: This article comes from Jamie Radtke, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Although the idea to “stop online piracy” sounds reasonable, the bill has a lot of other consequences that, whether intended or not, should trouble liberty-loving Americans. Unfortunately, my Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) is a strong supporter and co-sponsor of this legislation.
The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, is criminal in the same way. Through SOPA, the U.S. government and private companies will be able to censor free speech by killing web sites they claim are engaging in, enabling or facilitating infringement of copyrights. The Attorney General (Eric Holder!) would have the power to kill any web site he desires by denying it access to search engines, advertisers and payment processors like Visa. By the time the web site appeals the government’s attack, it may already be out of business.
Furthermore, it is a short step from there to using the power of censorship to stop “hate speech,” “incitement,” or any other form of dissent through speech. Don’t forget, our own Department of Homeland Security issued a report not long ago called “Right Wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” in which it branded as potential terrorists:
“…those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
Sound like anyone you know?
This is why I support the effort by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to stop SOPA and similar bills that restrict freedom and give government more control of the Internet. I encourage you to visit Senator Paul’s “Don’t Censor the Net” website and lend your support to his efforts as well.
Online piracy and copyright infringement are serious issues that must be addressed. But empowering the U.S. government and private companies to unilaterally censor and shut-down alleged abusers is a dangerous over-reaction to the problem, and will almost certainly lead to greater censorship of free speech that the government doesn’t like.
SOPA must be stopped! The question is: Where does George Allen stand on protecting our 1st Amendment rights? Does he stand with the Special Interests and power-hungry bureaucrats in Washington who support this bill, or does he stand with the individual and his right to free speech?
Update: I just got a request to link to two additional articles regarding SOPA and Representative Bob Goodlatte. The first is written by Karen Kwiatowski and is entitled Bob Goodlatte-Protecting Us Online? Not so Much! The second is by Kaleb Matson and is called Bob Goodlatte-Enemy of the Internet.