Both the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith, and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid withdrew their votes in support of the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Act Friday morning.
This postponement (yes, it’s just postponed) is a major win for those of us who enjoy the animosity of the internet without
seriously abusing it. Wednesday did seem to make a difference.
The delay in PIPA and Sopa came mere hours after the home of Megaupload.com’s CEO, Kim Dotcom, was raided in New Zealand due to illegal content on servers in Virginia, owned and opporated by Dotcom. The man had more money than the Pope and, in an effort to prove that, even had a black Rolls Royce with the vanity plate “GOD” on it, which was seized in the raid. Not very humble and this raid was certainly not good for those opposed to PIPA and SOPA, as it is millions of illegal downloads like that which occurred on Megaupload that caused the government to write this bill.
In regards to the SOPA/PIPA delay Lamar Smith’s statement was:
“It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was disappointed in the postponement stating:
“The day will come when the Senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem…Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy.”
While that is a very valiant statement, it does not take into account the astronomical cost that would go into policing websites, a financial burden that many smaller internet sites could simply not afford. Not to mention that with this passing, even more restrictions would most certainly be down the pipeline. The internet is a place for all of us, not just big business. The internet is not a government policed corporation and I certainly don’t want it to become one.
This isn’t over yet. But it’s important to note that the black out on Wednesday did, in fact, have an impact. It’s important people contact their congress people from time to time to remind them that we elect them, and that they serve our voice.
“Okay…8 pack of double A batterieeeees…Anything else?”
“Nope, that’ll do it.”
“Okay, phone number area code first?”
“Your phone number, area code first.”
“I just want to buy some batteries.”
“Yeah, we have to enter everyone’s phone number for every sale.”
Luckily, like most girls, I’m practiced in the art of giving out a fake number when need be. I just never thought I’d have to do it to buy batteries.
I am thankful for the Information Age. We’ve got dating sites and this new thing called “social networking”. We’ve got twits doing tweets and we never have to leave our house for Christmas shopping. Amazon.com is my personal savior.
I love online shopping. Buy those shoes you need while on your lunch break, without even getting into your car. I only buy from sites I know, sites with those security insignias all over, long established sites and only sites that promise my information will not be sold. But I often wonder if these sites can be trusted. I only ever enter information when I’m purchasing something and I only enter the information necessary for billing and shipping; I generally don’t have a problem with it.
I do have a major problem, however, with stores that request personal information when I’m checking out in person. If it’s not being mailed to me I don’t understand why any of my personal information is necessary or why I should be expected to give it out.
After my trip to Radio Shack, to which I gave the number 867-5309, and received both my batteries and a dirty look, I went to Payless Shoes, where I was requested for the same information.
“I don’t give out my phone number.”
“Not a problem,” replied the sales woman and continued with my purchase.
At least she was able to finish without having to enter anything false.
At lunch my husband and I went to a chain Japanese restaurant.
“Two for lunch, please.”
“Sure! First and last name and zip code.”
“Is there a wait? It looks empty.”
“No, no wait. Name?”
I raised an eyebrow. Had I missed a memo? In an age when identity theft is both relatively new and on the rise, why are we so pleasantly expected to give information everywhere we go? Perhaps there was a criminal on the run, the local authorities only knew her name and that she liked to frequent fake sushi places. Surely that’s the only reason anyone would need personal information to sit you at an empty restaurant.
“Kate Doe. 78704.” The hostess typed it in.
“I don’t give that out.”
“Would you like to give your email to rece-“
“Actually I would just really like some lunch.”
“Oh.” She paused. “Okay.”
Lunch? In a restaurant?!? What a novel idea!
Though I was asked for information when ordering, it was just salad dressing preferences and type of rice, data that actually had relevance to eating. At the end came the bill and… an info card, which we received a full debriefing on by our waitress: Give them our information to do whatever with and we’ll receive coupons periodically…amongst other wank in our email box. That was the last straw.
I just laughed.
“What?” My husband asked me. “We’ll get coupons and it says they won’t sell our information.”
“No, they won’t. But the third party that holds our information, archives it for them, does.”
I used to work for a bookstore while I was in college, we’ll call it Edges. Shortly before I quit, they implemented a customer card system. I watched coworkers get fired because they did not push this card enough. Edges’ policy was that there was no reason why anyone should leave the store without one. I watched customers get into fights with managers that wouldn’t drop it, I watched people complain and scream to workers young and old – and make them cry – during the heart of the holiday season because Edges forced their employees to push this past the point of “No.” According to them “no” never means “no” because “there is no reason why a customer should leave the store without this card as it saves them money for free”. This policy means, of course, that Edges has the personal information of everyone who has ever shopped there. And, sure, as stated, Edges doesn’t sell the phone number, name, address, and email of those shoppers who signed up for the card. But the company who handles the information sure as hell did and does. That’s what’s known as a loophole.
Part of the problem is that we live in the age of corporations. I went to Payless because it’s all I could afford. I went to Radioshack and the lunch place because they were near the other locations we had to visit. We could dive into facts, conspiracy theories, etc. denouncing the faceless corporations for feeling entitled to the personal information of those it keeps living in hovels. I know my information is out there and it makes me nauseaous. The fact of the matter is that I made the decision to shop where I did on this day and if I want to keep my information private I now have to consider that in where I buy the days necessities.
It’s an acknowledgment of a ridiculous truth and it’s completely infuriating.