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Rupert Murdoch vs. The Internet

Published: January 16, 2012 | 4:37 pm
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The newly minted Twitter sensation Rupert Murdoch has started weighing in on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in a frankly entertaining — however poorly thought-out — way. “More pirates,” the media mogul tweeted early on January 16 morning. “Whole entertainment ind employs 2.2 million ave salary 65 g. Good jobs and expanding foreign earnings. Made in America, too!” This comes after a (yet another) tweet heard ’round the Internet:

Google did not mince its words in responding. “This is just nonesense,” a Google spokesperson told CNet’s Greg Sandoval. “Last year we took down 5 million infringing Web pages from our search results and invested more than $60 million in the fight against bad ads … We fight pirates and counterfeiters every day.” This spat, many would agree, is not a Google versus News Corp. spat. It’s becoming a Rupert Murdoch versus the Internet spat, and it’s one that the aging media mogul stands to lose.

To be fair to Rupert, the extent to which Google is or isn’t fighting piracy is unclear. But that’s become the big question that’s derailed the bill’s progress in the House. Congressmen and women have tacitly admitted that they don’t understand how the Internet works, and Internet experts have argued that the nation’s lawmaker’s don’t understand how the Hollywood-supported bill stands to destroy the Internet as we know it by opening up the possibility of widespread censorship. The emerging theme, we’ve said before, is that SOPA uses a draconian solution to address a problem that we truly don’t understand. If you asked Reddit’s hivemind, they would tell you emphatically: it is a bad idea.

The president more or less said as much in a late night statement on January 14. “Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small,” his web-savvy crew of advisors said before making it real by dropping the c-word. “We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet.” (Emphasis ours.)

Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. should know a thing or two about hacks and hackers by now. The company’s been practically brought to its knees by the phone hacking scandal that’s currently under investigation in the United Kingdom and, in an increasingly serious way, the United States. By invoking the notion of cybersecurity as well as national security in speaking about SOPA, the Obama administration is taking it to the next level. This bill isn’t just about online piracy, it seems. It’s about the very DNA that’s created the Internet we know it, and Rupert Murdoch needs that Internet for his company to thrive and, some might say, survive. As an incumbent president with a knack for social media and an agenda of progress, Barack Obama also needs that Internet to remain open and free. Which why it’s not surprising that he came out in assertive opposition to SOPA.

What happens now with SOPA is up to Congress. The legislation is becoming increasingly political liability for everyone on Capitol Hill, but as November nears, more and more members of Congress realize that they’re going to have to address SOPA or the passionately politically active Reddit community will address it for them. Rupert Murdoch the Media Mogul ought to pay attention to the other companies — companies like GoDaddy — that Reddit’s already made a target in its campaign to derail the law’s progress. We find Murdoch’s new Twitter adventures entertaining. (Seriously, just read the feed. Did you know Rupert likes to go to casinos?) However this show, we’d guess, will not end well for Murdoch and his beloved News Corp.

Source: The Atlantic Wire


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