Why is the Internet Broken?

As the person who used to sit on the other end of tech support calls, I can see this question popping up quite often tomorrow.  I just feel sorry for all the techs who are going to have to field the influx of support calls tomorrow.  Often when one website goes down, some people think the entire internet is down.  Often it’s not the case.  Tomorrow it will be.  Websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit are going to completely take their entire site OFFLINE tomorrow in protest of some legislation that is making some serious waves among internet giants.  The bills are named SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), and other anti-piracy bills that have been created to try and stop copyright infringement.

Wait?  But isn’t infringing on someone’s copyrights already illegal?  Why, yes!  Yes it is!  The problem is prosecuting sites hosting copyrighted content when the sites exist overseas.  So the geniuses in our government decided that they should take matters into their own hands.  Which don’t even get me started about the government trying to get involved in every aspect of our lives.  If I want someone controlling every little piece of my life, I’d have given myself over to Google long ago… oh… wait.  Ignore that!

So basically some congressmen, who don’t understand technology or the infrastructure of the internet (kinda like my Mom who thinks that things can be stored on different “clouds” according to my most recent conversation with her) started to draft bills that they think will help shut these sites down.  The internet relies on DNS to find the right locations.  Each website has an IP address that when I type in www.familytechzone.com the DNS system will tell your computer that www.familytechzone.com is actually located at the address  That’s the REAL address of my site.  In the original draft of SOPA there would be people monitoring the internet… if they THINK you are in violation of copyrights they would just remove the link that tells the computers of the world that www.familytechzone.com is really located at, essentially making it so no one would be able to access my site.  The problem with this is that I could be shut down for any reason at all.  It’s censorship.  It’s 2 Live Crew being Banned in the USA all over again.  Other drafts of the bill have removed the “messing with the DNS” part, but it’s essentially still censorship instead of protection.

Google is promising to post something on it’s homepage tomorrow about the bills.  Google and Facebook have both come out in opposition of the Bills, and urge you to do the same if you enjoy any type of social networking.  Google has even gone so far as to try to help come up with a solution.  Please!  Let the people who understand technology figure this out.  Don’t just fly by the seat of your pants as you store things on your different clouds.

Contact your congresspeople and let them know that these Bills will BREAK THE INTERNET!

Mashable has a great post detailing exactly the problems with the Bills if you want to read more about it.  http://mashable.com/2012/01/17/sopa-dangerous-opinion/

Stepping off my SOPA boxa now.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.



About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com


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  • Just saw the black page at Wikipedia. As I see it, Wikipedia, Reddit, and other sites are setting a very bad precedent here. First of all, it’s the internet and they aren’t the only game in town – people who find their sites blacked out on Jan 18th will simply go elsewhere for the info they were seeking, possibly finding another site they like better than the self-important site they were trying to visit. Second of all, this is paving the way for powerful internet companies to try and push their own agenda by using their site’s off switch as a battering ram – imagine the guys at Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask getting together and deciding to shut down their search sites until Congress passed some law they favored. And finally, Wikipedia and other sites are blatantly misleading the people who come to their sites by wrongly implying that if SOPA passes it will cause their site to be shut down, all with the hopes that their misguided visitors will run off and complain to their congressman enough that the legislation is killed. This is mob-rule democracy at its worst.

  • I completely disagree Greg.

    I support what they are doing, and have blacked out my main page today as well. It’s not Mob-Rule, if you don’t support the initiative they support you don’t have to use their services. If they did that for a bill I didn’t support, I would go elsewhere, likely permanently, but these bills are too vague in what is a violation, and too swift, harsh and explicit with what the punishment will be. With the bill as it’s written, if you had a copyrighted picture as your avatar, MY site could be shut down without any notice or warning for hosting copyrighted content. NOT ACCEPTABLE.

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