Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president, said today she opposes the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, H.R. 3261) for giving the government and corporations too much power to restrict speech on the internet.
"Democracy can only succeed when free speech is a reality, not merely a promissory note. SOPA would impose censorship on the internet and threatens whistle-blowers and others whose speech is vital to a healthy society. SOPA is part of the escalating assault by global media corporations and many governments on the openness of the internet," said Stein in a press release.
Under SOPA, the U.S. Attorney General would be able to block websites by creating a blacklist and requiring service providers (including search engines) to block sites on that list. While the powers granted to the Attorney General would present major obstacles to regular users, it would be easy for the tech-savy individuals responsible for actual "online piracy" to circumvent. For this reason, Stein called SOPA, "an attempt to protect the profits of certain well-connected media corporations by undermining a communications medium that is essential to modern democracy."
SOPA also gives individuals and corporations the power to silence speech online. Individuals and corporations would be able to send a notice to a website’s payment partners requiring them to disconnect the alleged infiringing site, even if that site could not legally be held liable for infringement.
In solidarity with First Amendment advocates such as Wikipedia, Stein has today dedicated the opening splash page of her website (http://www.jillstein.org) ) her own page to an alert asking individuals to take action to oppose SOPA.