Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

The Loss of Privacy, Part Deux


Last week’s post bemoaned the loss of privacy through the misuse of digital technologies. This week, a look at another threat to privacy—by our government! Without getting too technical, the acronyms you need to know are SOPA and PIPA: SOPA is the Stop Online Privacy Act and PIPA* is the Protect IP Act.

Here are three excellent sources about PIPA and SOPA:


As you might imagine, a great many corporations and individuals oppose these acts. Unfortunately, this opposition comes from all different directions; it lacks unity. While the various opposing points-of-view are well-founded, they are diffuse and may not prevent passage of these bills.

Yet, there is an alternative. None of the opposing positions discuss costs, that is, what it would cost to implement these acts. A large portion of the costs fall upon Internet Providers and blog sites—like this one. Now, ask yourself: how will these providers deal with increased costs mandated by the government? If you’re still wondering about the answer, just look in the mirror.

Clearly, all the costs of implementing these acts will fall, directly or indirectly, on the users of the Internet. That means individuals, like you and me, and businesses, non-profits, and other organizations. Will someone please hit Congress upside the head with a two-by-four and explain to them these costs will seriously harm our economy? Do they not understand the extent to which our economy is dependent upon the Internet? A cost-effective Internet?

Many of the voices opposing these acts warn about the effect on censorship; others warn about inhibiting new businesses. Simply increasing the costs of using the Internet will, all by itself, create censorship and suffocate new business. Where are the voices warning of the dangers resulting from these increased costs? Well, you’re reading mine. Now it’s your turn: tell your representatives in Congress that neither you nor our economy can afford increased Internet costs.

* PIPA is not to be confused with pipa, the four-stringed chinese musical instrument. If you searched for PIPA you found references for both. The reason, as mentioned in the post of Jan. 2, 2012, is search engines do not allow us to distinguish upper and lower case. As a result, we cannot differentiate acronyms from common words, like score, pin, or wasp—or uncommon words like pipa.

That same post said search engines allowed users to limit results to various time periods (24 hours, a week, etc.). Not quite. Bing has dropped this capability completely! Google, on the other hand, has promoted it to the main search page!! For more on browser idiocies, next week’s post will be “Change for the Sake of Change.”

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