As the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives and its Senate companion, Protect IP, goes through the upper chamber, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative policy experts warn that these measures would severely hinder freedom of speech and undermine democracy.
Writing in Slate, James Losey and Sascha Meinrath warn that SOPA would lead to collective reprisals against online communities. They write that SOPA and Protect IP would "undermine participatory democracy and human rights, which is why these bills have garnered near-universal condemnation from both human rights groups and technologist."
In CNN.com, Senior Fellow Rebecca MacKinnon and Global Voices Executive Director Ivan Sigal warn that passage "will send a loud signal to governments everywhere that it is fine to monitor and censor citizens' online behavior to catch and prevent 'infringing activity,' which too often means political and religious dissent. The result will be a world even more dangerous and difficult for bloggers and activists than it already is."
Marvin Ammori writes in the Atlantic that SOPA is a direct affront to free speech, “Free speech has remained a quintessential American ideal, even as our society has moved from the ink quill to the touch screen. But as the Internet paves new avenues for speech, Congress seems to be remembering only some of the lessons of our tradition. While lawmakers continues to understand the potential threat from defamation laws, proposed legislation on copyrights shows that many in Congress are willing to overlook threats to free speech similar to those that overzealous defamation laws undoubtedly create.”
For more on the New America’s Open Technology Initiative, go here.