About the SOPA
SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA is a bill that was introduced by U.S. Republican Representative Lamar S. Smith. The bill was created with the idea of expanding the capabilities of U.S. law enforcement agencies to combat online piracy of intellectual property and counterfeit goods.
However SOPA has been controversial due to its far-reaching nature. Under the provisions of SOPA it would potentially be possible to seek court orders against web companies who are accused of engaging in copyright infringement. Unfortunately under the broad parameters defined by SOPA, this means that anyone who uploads something without owning the copyright themselves, could potentially be sent to prison for up to five years.
Critics of the bill and advocates of free speech on the web have argued that SOPA could force many, many websites to shut down; effectively changing the Internet as we know it. So broadly defined are the provisions of SOPA that anyone who has ever uploaded a photo that they did not themselves take, or even posted a quote online, could potentially be targeted by law enforcement.
Many have regarded this bill as a form of censorship and comparisons have been drawn between SOPA and some of the ways that the Chinese government has blocked content on the web. Many of the biggest properties on the web – including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, Amazon, Wikipedia, Paypal, and Yahoo – have been critical of SOPA. Wikipedia and 7,000 smaller websites even blacked themselves out for a day in protest on January 18 of 2012.
Differences between SOPA and PIPA
SOPA is not to be confused with the Protect IP Act, or PIPA. PIPA seems, on the surface at least, to be a more reasonable alternative to SOPA. PIPA is another U.S. law that was introduced to protect copyright holders online and limit access to so-called “rogue websites.”
This chart clearly delineates the various provisions of SOPA and PIPA and the similarities and differences between the two.
The January 18th Protest
On January 18 of 2012 the English language version of Wikipedia and 7,000 other websites blacked themselves out for a day in a protest against SOPA. Wikipedia presented presented visitors with instructions on reaching members of the U.S. congress to protest against the bill.
WordPress also posted about SOPA on its home page that day, while the infamous hacking group Anonymous engaged in a 12-hour blackout of communications to protest the bill.
How you can bypass SOPA with VPN Service
A good VPN service can be one of the most powerful tools available to web users when it comes to bypassing SOPA’s restrictions and accessing blocked websites. Utilizing a VPN service routes your Internet usage through an encrypted tunnel. This allows you to maintain your privacy while you are online and to access the websites of your choosing.
As A.M. Reilly of Industry Leaders Magazine put it:
“For companies that use virtual private networks (VPN) to create a network that appears to be internal but is spread across various offices and employee’s homes, any of these offsite locations that initiate sharing of copyright material could put the entire VPN and hosting company at risk of violation.”
While SOPA has not been passed yet, if it is passed in its current form, it seems that a VPN service would be the best way to bypass the new restrictions. What’s more, having a good VPN provider with a server located in the UK, Mexico, or Canada can enable you to anonymously and securely surf the net.
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