Here is an excellent piece from GigaOm regarding to recent profusion of proposed legislation (SOPA, CISPA, ACTA, etc.) dealing with online content. While there is a clear necessity to have laws that adequately and appropriately protect content creators, owners, and distributors, most of the recent proposed laws are not only draconian in nature, but present the very real specter of being being cures that are far worse than the disease.
The article is well summed up in its final paragraph:
“As the Internet becomes more and more vital to our daily lives, it is inevitable that legislators will continue to propose laws restricting it. Many of these laws will be cast in moral tones, imploring us to “think of the children,” protect people from cyberbullying or save us from criminals. These may be laudable goals, but it’s incumbent on the Internet community to ask whether the price in free speech online is worth it. And it’s not going to be. There’s no way to restrict just the bad and preserve only the good. Limits and restrictions invariably favor one class of speaker over another, impoverish the discourse and reduce transparency. Ultimately, the answer to concerns about the messiness of communication online lies in what caused the messiness in the first place: Keep the discussion as wide open as possible.”
We need to be cautious in our attempts to regulate the internet, particularly in ways that implicate the First Amendment. If you are not already doing so, pay attention to what is going on in Congress with respect to laws regulating the internet. Talk to your representatives. Be engaged. Bad legislation at this point can have profound negative impacts on not just our civil liberties, but on our economy. We cannot afford to get this wrong!