Thursday, 19 January 2012

SOPA Opera... and Things that Go Bump in The Night

O really, not another conspiracy theory!

But at least this is a first, I think. My shortest blog post yet...? So read on without fear of getting lost on route.

A friend joined a conversation over on Facebook, in a post that I'd added yesterday about the Stop Online Piracy Act, and the twenty four hour Wikipedia 'Blackout' protest. SOPA is currently going through its paces in the USA House of Representatives and Senate and seemingly causing a stir in the social media community; and quite rightly so, in my opinion; but not just 'rightly' so; this needs to be shouted from every hilltop in the land because it is potentially a great threat to our freedoms, which could become fiefdoms or 'feedoms' if we don't fight for what's right.

Anyway, my friend asked the question that spiked my imagination: "and who censors the censors!" she asked with no uncertain rhetoric, albeit with a question mark. A very good question, Fiona.

The answer to your question is that it should be the electorate! But it isn't, is it. Why is it that we should be so cynical whenever such a move is made by legislators! This is perhaps better answered by asking another question: who benefits most from this act? The answer could be that the largest multinational corporations benefit the most. I mention no names, but those whose core markets are in gaming, music, publishing are the most obvious, who may benefit; but aren't there always more sinister forces at work?
I would argue that there may also be some scientific research interests, particularly those that concern themselves with defence, security and pharmaceuticals. Behind them - and here comes our old friend, Conspiracy - aren't there selective groups of people who are largely without political colour, whose agenda is control. It is those with a primary interest in Control of Power (deliberate capitals); these are not necessarily political interests - at least of the conventional kind, which are voted for by a democratic electorate. No, this is an elite, who are not necessarily constrained by national boundaries and legislature; those who stand to lose the most, and who therefore develop the highest degree of paranoia when the masses get access to 'free' information and of course get to appreciate the persuasive power of 'social media'. 

May be it's when that paranoia becomes trigger happy that we should start to worry; not that it hasn't already, mind. After all, in the Middle East, where, as history would have it, lies the cradle of civilisation, and where previously religious conviction lead to crusades, which, it could be argued, continue to this day? Is this because the state of mind that accompanies this paranoia is not what you'd call open; open to debate and rational discussion; discussion that a vast majority of the world's populace would be capable of having in an objective, responsible and compassionate way and who are just beginning to find their voice by using social media. If it is only the few, who wish to abuse this amazing facility, then this can be dealt with if there's a strong enough will to place enough resource behind policing it. 

Whatever happens, we simply cannot afford to let this truly amazing resource, which has opened up to us only in the space of one generation, slip from our grasp. Surely the internet and, above all, freedom of speech as we know it today must be preserved!
In the mean time, in summary, I conclude that SOPA has less to do with copyright and piracy than it has to do with a lot else! 
I rest my case, Mi'Lords and Ladyships. 
(And the novel will be out sometime next year! I hope you enjoyed this executive snippet...)  ;-)


  1. Where's the rest of this post, John? I kept scrolling down to read more. ;)

    Seriously though, I agree with your thoughts on this. I had not intended to write on this topic, but for what it's worth, threw in my two cents on it today. Though I'm not normally one for conspiracy theories, I do question why these bills have come up at this time. There was already an act in place to protect copyright infringement on the Internet, and has been in place since 1998.

    My guess is it is powered by corporate pressures, and whenever the government feels that something has become "too big" or "too accessible," they somehow feel they need to get in and control it —for our own good of course. The problem is the lawmakers who've decided to do this have no clue about the Internet, and by all accounts, have not sought expert advice to find out the repercussions of passing such bills.

    Perhaps I'm getting old and cynical, but I always question "well-meaning" laws that aim to protect me, when I didn't see a problem to begin with.


  2. Don't know how many times I've started this reply! iPhone wouldn't let me type, then interruptions galore, then forgot!

    Eden, I'm sorry, but I'll try to get back to normal length for my next post; perhaps a short story would be a good idea? ;-). Thank you again for pitching in with your views; and for being, as it turns out, the only comment I've had on this. Isn't it strange that such a subject has not drawn much attention, at least to my blog, although it does seem to have done the 'trending' rounds over the past week or so.

    I hate conspiracy theorists, so I prefer to think of myself as an occasional cynical realist! Anyone with even half their normal quota of brain cells will know that this is almost always a hidden agenda in any political manoeuvre. But we should try to give them the benefit of the doubt if there is any. But this one is so potentially threatening to the power that social media has to support freedom of speech. Long, long may it last for my children, my grandchildren and theirs...


Don't leave without letting me know what this article made you think, how it made you feel ... good or bad, I'll take either.