INTERNET CENSORSHIP THREATENS DEMOCRACY: An Important Message Regarding SOPA, PIPA, and Internet Censorship
My name is Adam S. Wandt and I am coming to you from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I serve as a faculty member and Deputy Chair for Academic Technology in the Department of Public Management. I am also a Research Associate with the Center for Cybercrime Studies, and Chair of the CUNY SkunkWorks academic technology research and development group.
I am here to speak out against all forms of Internet censorship, including the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, both currently pending before Congress.
An open and uncensored Internet is essential to promote and protect democracy. From citizen advocacy, to increased government transparency, to informed decision making, citizens, NGO’s, politicians and the oppressed are employing Internet-based technologies to enhance communications, protect and spread democracy, and allow people in oppressive regimes to organize, communicate, collaborate and overcome adversity.
While online piracy is a problem, I am a firm believer that legislation is not the answer. It will ultimately fail while costing Americans hundreds of millions of tax dollars. We should be considering a constitutional amendment to protect unrestricted access to the Internet, not debating legislation to censor it.
We must find alternative means to protect intellectual property while ensuring profitability for authors and artists, publishers and producers, and corporations alike. The solutions will not come easily and require rethinking and redefining how we deal with intellectual property.
After years of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) failing to protect the music industry with litigation and legislation, the solution came from the technology sector, not Congress or the courts.
Apple’s introduction of the iPod, iTunes and the 99 cent song redefined the music industry by providing a safe, inexpensive and profitable means for the music industry to successfully sell online digital music.
Starting In 2001, millions of people around the world who were illegally downloading music on a regular basis, switched to iTunes and started paying for their music because it was safe, affordable and easier than illegal downloading. In 2010, just nine years later, Apple hit their 10 billionth iTunes sale. Today, Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world with well over 100 billion dollars in annual revenue.
It is this type of thinking that is needed to protect both the Internet and intellectual property going forward. I call on members of Congress and the the public-at-large to consider this message carefully to ensure a bright, open and profitable future for America.