I think this is my first ever politically-based post. But, I feel so strongly about it, I couldn't think of a better way to share my thoughts on the subject.
If you are a user of the Internet, you need to know about SOPA and PIPA. The United States Congress is in the process of debating bills that are meant to stop the proliferation of pirated material being distributed on the web. The bills, as written, give power to corporations and even the government to make a claim that a website is sharing copyrighted material. That website then has 5 days to respond by either shutting down or removing the material. If they don't, then affiliated websites (such as search engines) can be pulled into the mix through litigation that would essentially stop the offending site from showing up in searches.
Why is this a big deal? Because SOPA and PIPA are, in essence, censorship bills. There is no due process once a claim has been made and there is no appeal process. Ultimately, the companies with the most money will be able to shut down competitors at will through legal costs and proceedings.
Multiple sites are blacking out service to demonstrate the possible effects if these bills are passed. Please take a moment today to sign the petition at Google and write a short letter to your state representatives.