A whole bunch of founders and co-founders of high profile web properties have banded together to sign an open letter to Washington in opposition to SOPA and Protect IP.
The letter has been signed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Andressen Horowitz c-founder Marc Andreessen, Mozilla Firefox co-founder Mitchell Baker, Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey, Flickr and Hunch co-founder Caterina Fake, Yahoo co-founder David Filo, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, Internet Archive founder and Alexa Internet co-founder Brewster Kahle, PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Twitter and Obvious co-founder Biz Stone, Wikipedia and Wikimedia Foundation founder Jimmy Wales, Blogger and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.
In just two decades, the world wide web has transformed and democratized access to information all around the world. I am proud of the role Google has played alongside many others such as Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Twitter. Whether you are a student in an internet cafe in the developing world or a head of state of a wealthy nation, the knowledge of the world is at your fingertips.
Of course, offering these services has come with its challenges. Multiple countries have sought to suppress the flow of information to serve their own political goals. At various times notable Google websites have been blocked in China, Iran, Libya (prior to their revolution), Tunisia (also prior to revolution), and others. For our own websites and for the internet as a whole we have worked tirelessly to combat internet censorship around the world alongside governments and NGO promoting free speech.
Thus, imagine my astonishment when the newest threat to free speech has come from none other but the United States. Two bills currently making their way through congress — SOPA and PIPA — give the US government and copyright holders extraordinary powers including the ability to hijack DNS and censor search results (and this is even without so much as a proper court trial). While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don’t believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.
There are some interesting comments on his post as well. Fore example, Tom Rolfson says, “Thank you. As a founding member of EFF and other online associations, I love seeing others joining the fight we started 20+ years ago.”
Ethan Madison says, “Can someone contact Mr. Berners-Lee and maybe some ICANN people to help us out here? I think their arguments would have weight, considering they control the Internet.”
Rolfson responds, “Many of them are already involved. This is ultimately up to all of us to contact our representatives. I am putting serious pressure on Cong. Paul Ryan who I believe is still supporting it.”
Many of the comments are simply thanking Brin for speaking out.
The letter itself reads:
We’ve all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.
However, we’re worried that the PROTECT IP Act and Stop Online Piracy Act – which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online – will undermine that framework.
These two pieces of legislation threaten to:
– Require web services like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;
– Deny website owners the right to due process of law;
– Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and
– Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.
We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.
Any other names you’d like to see signed onto that letter?