The Internet was created by the United States of America's military in order to better communicate information between computers long distances apart without requiring physical connections; thereby creating a free and open space between the computers networked. This moment was the beginning of file sharing as it exists and is contested today. The Internet has clearly changed the way the entire world absorbs and disseminates information, and any attempt to close the faucet, so to speak is rendered impossibly even for the harshest of censorship regimes. As you are co-sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, I urge you to reconsider your position on Internet privacy and the entire issue of SOPA in its entirety. I am a Chinese student studying in the United States who understands what government censorship means, and I would like to convey my opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act. The White House has opposed SOPA on grounds that it is potentially damaging to the American startup industry, and I agree with this. (Phillips, 2012) The SOPA bill may ruin America's credibility as a bastion of freedom around the world, and may not even curb piracy nor regain income for the Hollywood studios pushing for the enacting of SOPA against America's major young corporations such as Facebook Microsoft, and Google.
I oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act because, like most Internet experts in Silicon Valley, it is dangerous to new business and existing practice. American engineers have realized that if SOPA is passed, it will create fear and unpredictability within the Internet investment market. This means that many startups that rely on risky investments from venture capitalists will no longer receive investment they badly need, and therefore the next Facebook or Google could be ended due to the huge restrictions the SOPA act placed on Internet security and privacy. (Schusterman, 2011) If the United States government begins interacting with the Internet in biased ways to put an end to international websites, then European countries have stated that they will separate the current DNS (Domain Name System) that guides the Internet. This would be a disastrous move, because a divided DNS would mean that the United States loses a majority of its power over the Internet outside of the U.S. (Jerry, 2012) The fact that the system is free and open is what has kept the system intact for twenty years. If Europe splits from the U.S., then countries which would like to keep their Internet DNS system apart from America's prying eyes will surely exit the existing DNS system and join onto Europe's new one. This would mean that regions such as the Middle East and countries like Russia, Pakistan, and China, would separate themselves entirely from American Internet space. An untold number more would transfer their domains over the European servers, and soon enough the United States give up its entire credibility to handle the Internet, in exchange for the power to spy and control its own citizen's access. Creating a new business in this environment is impossible, and the tech sector would willingly leave Silicon Valley in order to join a more neutral Internet in a friendly European country, such as Sweden.
Another point of my opposition to the SOPA bill before Congress is the fact that most likely, those being censored will be members of the collective masses of Youtube viewers, Flickr picture takers, Twitter typists, Etsy sellers, and Facebook fiddlers. SOPA will cause average Americans to be fearful of what they post and say, because average American's will not know what computer enthusiasts know. (Temple, 2012) Those who are inclined to reach further into the Internet already realize that SOPA cannot possibly work as intended, because computer hackers and torrent websites already have solutions to the restrictions that SOPA will set into place. Mininova.org, for instance, is a gigantic European torrent website where one can freely download movies, music, television shows, and more with the click of a mouse. The SOPA Act will allow the United States government to forcefully take down Mininova.org for all users of the Internet, in an effort to protect American Intellectual Property. The problem, however, is that torrent users no longer require the DNS system that the U.S. Government controls, in other words, there are no actual servers that require Mininova.org to exist. Now, the entire website is contained in specialized links that are zipped into a small file, so that now hundreds of millions of users each have a version of mininova.org which is shared in a matter of seconds, creating a decentralized source for downloads forever. (Thurana, 2011) The average American, however, will not understand this solution and it is those people that will be put under investigation and who will protest their innocence as they go to jail at the behest of Hollywood.
The Stop Online Piracy Act will raise all American's collective defense on the Internet, and will not have the sort of effect on sales that Hollywood producers believe. That is because the majority of those who pirate movies would not actually pay for this movie in a DVD format anyway, but because these viewers do view the movie, they spread the word about movies far and wide. That means small indie movies that could never reach wide release have now become very popular as they are available for free on torrent sites and spread the name recognition of its actors without having to pay for any sort of contractual relationship.
My opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act is not restricted to purely economic reasons, as the Internet itself has come to both represent American ingenuity and American innovation, it is tied to American culture itself. In China, Intellectual Property works differently than in the West. In Confucianism, it is a very honorable thing and a well-accepted practice to copy ideas and strains of thought directly from our ancestors. In this way, the Chinese will always mimic the best of society, and create a more harmonious environment for intellectual thought. This practice is very different in the West, where an individual's unique ideas and thoughts are inherently his own, which is a sentiment extended to corporations and their property as well. Therefore the cultural values of Americans have come to push the idea of protection of new ideas, which is very un-Chinese like. This is at the core of the differences in Intellectual Property between America and China. I believe that American values of freedom of speech are very respectable, as that does not exist in China. Our versions of Facebook and Twitter are censored constantly and information is deleted as soon as it is posted. If America does not want this sort of thing to happen in its country then it is up to American voters to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act, which is why I am writing this letter. ("Google," 2012)
China has a lot of control over its Internet and people, because it feels that free information is dangerous to the Communist regime, and the Communist's greatest fears are open communication between minority groups and democratization advocates. The idea of censorship is not about suppressing a single individual to the Chinese government, it is more about creating a harmonious country so that everything works as it should and nobody complains too much. The uprising of 1989 in Tiananmen Square is still on the minds of Chinese leaders, and only the constant economic growth for the past twenty years has kept power in the hands of these leaders. Western tech companies oppose China's "Great Firewall of China," but the Chinese just evicted these companies and created their own versions, such as Baidu, a Chinese version of Google search. This is what these companies have seen in their experiences, and it is what they are trying to prevent by opposing SOPA in the United States. I would implore you to resist the urge of granting more control over Internet censorship to the U.S. Government.
Hollywood argues that it is losing so much money that its business is suffering, but hundreds of millions of dollars are still earned each year by Hollywood studios, and big movies like Avatar created so much money it changed the way people thought about the movies. (Wyatt, 2011) Hollywood has continued to earn record amounts each year, so the extent of suffering it receives due to piracy is debatable. The fact that most of Hollywood's profits come from outside of the United States is also telling to the fact that not all countries with open piracy laws result in no profit for the entertainment industry. Music is another industry that suffers because of Internet piracy, but music has not changed in this way in a long time, as piracy has always been a concern. Recording executives have hunted down recordings of concerts for decades. Websites like iTunes and Amazon have made a lot of money for the music companies, however. Tens of millions of songs…