Off on a Tangent joined with thousands of other web sites across the Internet in going on strike to protest two incredibly dangerous bills working their way through the U.S. Congress. This protest has since concluded, but it is still very important that you contact your elected representatives and demand that they oppose these bills.

This is the statement that appeared on Off on a Tangent during the 24-hour protest:

In 1997, a web site I managed was shut down by order of a public school vice principal—a government official—under threat of suspension. I am, therefore, in the somewhat unique position of having actually been a victim of government censorship. Although the site was down for less than a day, the experience gave me a new appreciation for our God-given civil liberties—and a new desire to protect those liberties whenever they are threatened by overreaching governments.

The U.S. Congress is working on two bills—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect-IP Act (PIPA)—that will give the Federal government broad new censorship powers over the Internet. Although the bills are ostensibly designed to stop online piracy, they will have a dangerous chilling effect on Internet free speech, potentially force U.S. hosting and content providers to move overseas, and stifle YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, and other user-driven sites.

These bills undermine the Web, technically and spiritually, but are unlikely to have any real effect on the pirates they were meant to target. They are akin to using a nuclear weapon to hammer in a nail; they are far too powerful, will create far too much collateral damage, and won’t have the desired effect anyway. The people of China, Iran, and North Korea suffer under regimes that have the legal authority to censor citizens’ Internet access without due process. These are not the kinds of regimes that the U.S. government should be emulating.

Off on a Tangent is joining with thousands of web sites all across the web in going on strike today to protest of these two dangerous bills—giving you a taste of what the Internet might be like if Congress has its way. If you are concerned about the government having the authority to arbitrarily shut down web sites without due process, please contact your Congressional representatives and demand that they oppose the SOPA and PIPA bills.

The views expressed in this post are mine and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Web.com.