Posted by Sharon Ritchey
Today is Internet Freedom Day, not a national holiday or even a net event like Cyber Monday. It is, however, a day to recognize the importance of a free Internet that is not censored and is available to everyone as a means to share news and content.
A little history… back in 2012, Texas Congressman Lamar S. Smith introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The intent was to create a legal means to stop copyright infringement and protect the intellectual and financial rights of content creators. Opponents saw this as a threat to free speech in that the government could deem a single webpage or blog posting as breaking the law and then block the domain of the offending site. In response, on January 18, 2012, some 7,000 websites staged a service black-out and there was a rally in New York City. The protest was heard loud and clear and the bill was tabled – democracy in action?
What this does mean is that the public – at least a loud public in the United States feels that however flawed information sharing and creation may be, the Internet should be left as is – open and allowed to expand.
What we get in return is well, in some instances, pure garbage, such as pornography, sites that exploit people, sites that openly exist only to rip people off, cyberbullies, plagiarism, not to mention bad design, and a 24-hour news cycle that reports anything but news.
But we also have the sharing of volumes of information, research, humor, life-altering news, and useful bits of information such as how to jump-start a car, say I love in 100 different languages, the best ever brownie recipes, and what to do if you are bitten by a rattlesnake. Maybe it’s a bit superficial, both the ugly and the innocuous. It doesn’t matter – it’s there for all of us to decide for ourselves.
As a writer, the Internet has given me a free voice to express thoughts and to research ideas. I can’t imagine going back even ten years to a fledgling Internet. But remember, we all must be responsible net citizens and practice proper content creation.
Don’t steal another site’s content and pass it off as your own
Give proper credit for content and ideas when credit is due
Check your facts. Just because you read something online doesn’t make it true
Remember that what you post online is there forever
Free speech is not a license to be a jerk!