What are SOPA and PIPA?

SOPA and PIPA refer to the two congressional bills which were projected to increase the capability of the United States law enforcement to battle online crime in copyrighted academic property and fake goods (Bayuk, 2012). The SOPA and PIPA bills were extensively criticized in the technical community and were eventually rejected by Congress after influential internet sites such as Wikipedia shut down in protest. Lessig (2012) noted that the copyright industries had exercised their enormous political influence to get Congress consider legislation to radically increase their power to invoke the courts to block sites said to be engaged in piracy.

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The Proposal

The proposal of the SOPA and PIPA intended to expand the ability of the United States law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Bayuk (2012) says that the major consideration of both PIPA and SOPA cyber legislation is the concept of covered significant infrastructure. Bayuk (2012) indicated that “the SOPA bill addresses specific legal restrictions that prevent the private sector and the government from sharing critical and time sensitive cyber security data” (p. 78).

According to Bayuk (2012), the PIPA bill includes provisions for a new information sharing organization and designates the leading cyber security officials at DHS. The PIPA bill promotes research at DHS to find new solutions to technical cyber security issues and directs DHS to develop a national cyber security incident response plan in conjunction with private sector critical asset owners (Bayuk, 2012). The bill was heavily attacked by internet companies and academics, but, on the other hand, Hollywood had the express commitment of enough in Congress to all but guarantee its passage (Lessig, 2012).

The House noted that the definition of PIPA includes those facilities or functions that, if disrupted or destroyed by cyber vulnerabilities, could result in significant loss of life, serious economic disruption, and severe degradation of national security capabilities (Bayuk, 2012). The private sector and individuals preferred the government to provide incentives to be more secure along the lines of reduced regulatory burden.  

Can These Bills Affect Your Privacy?

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Yes. This is because an individual’s and private sector’s privacy is subject to external forces beyond their control and that any preventive legislation would either hinder technical growth or limit asset owners from being able to gainfully operate their infrastructure systems (Bayuk, 2012). In addition, the bills can affect privacy because cyberspace is multifarious and interconnected with no single point of authority or control. In line with this, it should be noted that the threats and vulnerabilities of cyberspace are evolving faster than public policy can keep up (Bayuk, 2012).

Privacy vs. Piracy

Privacy protects individuals and groups, limits governments, regulates business conduct, and establishes rules for internet activities (Dixon & Gellman, 2011). Dixon & Gellman further say that privacy implications flow from the increased amount of information in the internet and are expanding to include things that traditionally were never recorded at all and that may not have been thought of as having an online component (2011). On the other hand, piracy refers to the unlawful reproduction or distribution of property protected by patent and trademark laws. Dixon & Gellman noted that “piracy varies greatly from nation to nation and is basically dependent on each countries intellectual property laws and on international norms” (2011, p. 251). Researchers argue that piracy is the unavoidable outcome of a property model which prohibits the exchange of information. It is important to note that piracy has political and economic consequences.     

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In conclusion, the SOPA and PIPA house bills are not easy tasks. This is because they are not confined to the boundaries of law or management, or technology. Bayuk (2012) says that both bills require a blended way of thinking that crosses professional boundaries and highlights people’s privacy and requirements for innovation. Bayuk (2012) further says that by rejecting both SOPA and PIPA bills, the society who built the internet will certainly continue to lose ground to well-organized, equipped, determined threats that know how to characterize, articulate, and achieve cyber security goals which have adverse effects on our privacy and promote piracy at the same time. 

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