Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Would SOPA Affect Nonprofits?

Visitors to Wikipedia or Google today will find things a little different.  Both sites are participating in a web-wide "black out" to protest pending anti-piracy legislation in Congress.

The two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), have drawn heavy criticism from its detractors, who say that the laws are an assault on the "free and open Internet."  The legislation would essentially allow the Justice Department to shut down websites accused of copyright infringement without a traditional court hearing.

You're probably wondering: How would either of these laws affect nonprofits?  According to The Huffington Post, SOPA and PIPA could have a huge affect on fundraising.  SOPA would give the government the ability to block suspicious sites' Domain Name System (DNS) servers, which convert .com names into IP addresses.  This could have a direct impact on a nonprofit's donation process, as interfering with the DNS servers makes websites more vulnerable to identity theft and cyberattacks.

Some organizations are already speaking out against the legislation.  In the same piece, The Huffington Post mentioned that Global Voices, an international volunteer community of citizen journalists, is joining the protests by "going dark" for 12 hours.  The organization is concerned that the laws would "inflict broad damage" to the work of digital activists around the globe, and would hinder free speech.

Learn more about SOPA and PIPA by reading the full article from The Huffington Post.

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