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Why I support the protest against SOPA/PIPA.

If you’re not sure what this SOPA/PIPA business is all about, this video is a great introduction.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

 

Whilst my own thinking on this issue is still developing, there are some specific issues I have with SOPA/PIPA.

  • The legislation is driven by old-media content-companies who have struggled to monetise new media to extract the level of profits they are used to. We are living in a new environment with new opportunities and challenges. Legislation will stifle creativity, not protect it. The only aim of this legislation is to protect the profits of large corporates.
  • If this legislation is passed, it highlights the hypocrisy of the West in pointing the finger at regimes that control access to the internet in other parts of the world, whilst doing the exact same thing within their own borders. We need to get a grip.

However, it does also raise the question of what freedom actually is. We don’t always have the same perspective on this.

I’ve been reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, and this morning read of an email exchange between Jobs and Ryan Tate of Gawker media (where, apparently, today’s gossip is tomorrow’s news, hmmm). By evoking Jobs’ love of Bob Dylan, and asking what Dylan might feel about Apple – “Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with ‘revolution’?” – he suggests that revolutions are about freedom.

Interestingly, this was Jobs’ response: “Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’…”

Whilst I’m not a 100% advocate of the Apple procedure for approving apps etc, I’m struck that where many were advocating the choice for porn, Steve Jobs was advocating freedom from porn. The freedom to choose (even when this might cost others) versus the freedom from bad choices. Again, I’m not sure I trust Apple enough to always be making good choices on my behalf, but I do find it refreshing how another side is brought to light in this exchange.

Tellingly, Jobs even suggests that Tate “might care more about porn when you have kids…”. Porn enslaves millions, if you count both those forced into the industry through economic desparation, and those for whom the internet enables the secret continuation of bad choices.

Freedom and choice is a complex issue, and I recognise that many of the ‘freedoms’ I enjoy today have come – and still do – at the cost of others.

As you wrestle with these difficult choices, what advice might you give to help others make good, well informed decisions?

Andy Moore

I work as Head of Global Communications for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), having previously worked with Compudava (now Endava) in Moldova, building web applications, and for Wesley Management, working with small businesses and charities. I have a passion to see intelligent application of digital technology to serve the Church and mission. Married to the lovely Ruth.

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