If you’ve been online today, you’ve probably noticed something is a miss.

This is what I saw when I came into work. WTF right? Well this isn’t the only website actively protesting SOPA and PIPA.

I dare you to try and wikipedia something..

Yeah, no Red Hot Chili Pepper page for me. This is what popped up on my screen. AND IT’S GOING ON ALL DAY LONG.

As of midnight last night, Wikipedia will be shut down for the next 24 hours and hundreds of other popular websites have gone dark right along with it. Why you might be wondering? It’s an effort to stand together in protest of two controversial pieces of legislation that threaten internet security and blatantly undermine freedom of speech in a half a@!!$d effort to crack down on online “piracy.”

Thanks Johnny.

If you’re wondering who is behind this blame Hollywood, the music industry, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Though the goal to to protect valuable copyrighted property on the internet is laudable, the ends do not even begin to justify the means. The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act have far-reaching consequences for not just individual liberties but innovation in the digital age.

Here’s what the law would mean to you.

Upon a court order, third-party companies and websites would be forced to crack down on rogue websites — and even ones that unwittingly host or link to material that may violate copyrights or trademarks, whether or not they have knowledge of the violation. Internet service providers would be required to block Internet addresses of offending sites — a measure that Internet engineers warn could threaten Internet security. Search engines would be prohibited from including pirate sites in search results, a requirement that goes well beyond current law and may, in fact, violate the First Amendment.

It is concerns like these that have caused a firestorm in the online world, leading Wikipedia to declare that the laws “would be devastating to the free and open web” and prompting Google to campaign against the laws on its highly trafficked search engine. Meanwhile, PC Magazine reports that co-founders of top tech firms like Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and eBay wrote an open letter opposing the laws, arguing that they would undermine the “regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.”

Here’s why: Under the laws, websites like Facebook, with its hundreds of millions of users, or YouTube, where 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, would now be accountable for all content posted on their sites. As a result, websites would be discouraged from engaging in speech or from providing a forum where others can do the same. That, in turn, will stifle innovation–the lifeblood of the economy. One study showed that among 200 venture capitalists and angel investors, almost all would stop funding digital media intermediaries if these laws are enacted.

Can you imagine a world without Facebook? We’d probably have to actually start talking to people again..

Setting aside the burden the laws would impose on the freedom of speech and innovation, they don’t even make practical sense. Trying to block content online is tantamount to blocking the Mississippi River with a two-by-four. It can’t be done. Countries like Iran routinely censor content, yet information still flows through–oftentimes with the help of the United States. This attempt to crack down on pirated material is a futile effort by industries that are suffering at the hands of a technology that has surpassed it, much like when Hollywood was up in arms over VCRs in the 1980s and when the music industry threw a fit over MP3 players in the late 1990s.

The Internet is the greatest engine for free speech and innovation we have. Of course its power can be abused for the bad, but think of all the good it’s done. Censoring content, jeopardizing the security of the Internet, and stifling innovation is not the answer for protecting intellectual property rights.

What do you think of SOPA and PIPA?

Props to my friends at Heritage for this info.