I have decided to check which congressperson is responsible for my district, and send her a personal message urging her to vote against SOPA. Here is the text I used:
Dear Congresswoman Speier,
I am writing to you regarding the so-called “SOPA”, or “Stop Piracy Online Act” which will be up for debate and a vote soon (possibly as soon as December 15th). I am concerned about the implications of the bill for my rights, as well as those of others in the United States.
Let me prefix this by saying that the bill will do nothing to “Stop Online Piracy”. Technologies like Freenet, Tor or VPN already exist for dedicated pirates to work around any technical or legal hurdles the US government might throw in their path.
However, what the bill *will* do is to create a US equivalent of the so-called “Great Firewall of China” — a centralized place for the government to stop any communications it does not want. It wouldn’t work against pirates, of course, which would find any small hole in the implementation and smuggle everything through that (just like they do in China — a police state!). But it will mean that new forms of art or technology can be stopped by a unilateral act of the government.
I, like many of your constituents, work in the hi-tech industry. I depend on free communication, and unfettered access to information, for my livelihood. If you put obstacles in front of Silicon Valley’s business, competitors outside the US will out-innovate, and eventually out-compete us.
This bill does not just threaten my rights to free expression, and my access to new forms of communication. This bill threatens my ability to make money, all in the name of protecting out-moded business models.
Last but not least, you will notice that the amounts of television, music and movies available has not decreased with the internet — even if we just limit our search to mass-media. If you factor in over 50 hours a minute of video uploaded to YouTube, you will see that this bill is not necessary in order to “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”[Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, United States Constitution]
I thank you in advance for your consideration, and hope that you will choose to vote according to the interests of your constituents — against the SOPA bill.