White House joins criticism of US online piracy bill

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White House joins criticism of US online piracy bill

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A day without access to some information exchange websites has been a major worry for millions of users around the world.

Wikipedia was among many to have shut down on Wednesday in protest against US anti-piracy legislation.

Although the blackout failed to get the support of the biggest Internet players, it has still proved to be an inconvenience for one South Korean student.

“The Internet is a place where we can freely express ourselves. I’m worried that if regulations get tougher it’s going to be very difficult for people to use social media like Facebook or Twitter in the future,” said Park Joohee.

The legislation known as SOPA has been a major priority for entertainment firms, publishers and many industry groups who claim online piracy costs them billions of euros a year. But critics say the bill is a hammer to crack a peanut sized problem.

Lance Ulanoff, Editor-in-chief of Mashable said: “The way these laws were written is truly draconian measures. They can do virtually anything they want if they happen to notice that a website has used copyrighted content.”

Other critics said the bill could hurt the technology industry and infringe on free-speech rights which may penalise internet service providers.

David Smith from the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies said if enacted the laws would essentially turn Internet service providers into monitoring entities, responsible for policing all of the content on their sites.

The White House has stated its opposition to the legislation in its current form which means the debate is likely to intensify in the weeks ahead.