Monday, January 23, 2012

Re-Draft SOPA: But Protect Freedom of Expression

At the outset, let me state that I am all in favour of Freedom of Expression whether it is Internet or Offline. However, I do have my reservations on a total opposition to an Act like SOPA ( Stop Online Piracy Act) or similar bills / laws of other countries. 

Even a rented house where a prostitution is going on is liable for penalty. The owner cannot close his eyes and say that he is innocent and cannot control what is happening in the house even if it is illegal. As a principal of the house, he is responsible for what goes on inside the house. Digital Space by contrast is very vast but in principle is pretty similar to a rented house. Each post on FB and Google is a rented space. They cannot keep benefiting from the content and then stay immune from the negative consequences of the content. Today, the bill may have been mooted because one section of the society is affected. The same can happen to any other section and they are bound to feel offended. Freedom of Expression should not be confused with Freedom to Malign. 

SOPA or other Acts aimed at regulating the net are a daring attempt to regulate an almost infinite digital space, by and large considered as almost impossible to regulate. The way citizens have responsibility to live a law abiding life, even netizens have the similar duty and are responsible in creating a congenial atmosphere for a healthy internet. 

Sooner or later, these Internet giants will have to devise smart technological ways of putting an end to illegal or vulgar content on the site. As more and more citizens including children hop on to the net, the policy maker's intention cannot be ignored in its spirit. SOPA should be re-drafted to create a congenial way of dealing with this ever increasing mis-use of the Internet platform. If it happens, I hope the Internet companies will be taken into confidence and the net result will be a consensual and inclusive Bill.
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