CouponBuzz.com joins Wikipedia in Encouraging Internet Users to Protest the SOPA and PIPA Legislation Currently Before Congress

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CouponBuzz.com announced today their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA legislation that is currently before the House of Representatives and the Senate. They join their protest to that of more than 700,000 other internet sites against the anti-piracy legislation, among them such internet giants as Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, Craigslist and thousands of smaller entities like CouponBuzz.com.

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We are deeply concerned about the implications for free speech, as well as internet security that SOPA and PIPA legislation represent,

CouponBuzz.com announced today their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA legislation that is currently before the House of Representatives and the Senate. They join their protest to that of more than 700,000 other internet sites against the anti-piracy legislation, among them such internet giants as Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, Craigslist and thousands of smaller entities like CouponBuzz.com.

Wikipedia’s protest seems to be garnering the most media attention, stating on their homepage that "For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.” Although Wikipedia’s response is perhaps the most dramatic and defiant, many of the websites protesting the legislation feature a short message on their homepage about the potential damaging effects of the new legislation, bills commonly referred to by their acronyms PIPA and SOPA.

CouponBuzz.com is a website dedicated to searching for the best coupons and coupon codes available to online shoppers and aggregating them into both store specific or item specific categories. For example, a customer looking for a coupon code or a special sale before purchasing a laptop could search either on the dedicated Dell or HP webpages on CouponBuzz.com, or search in the Computers and Electronics section of the site. They specialize in the human touch, employing individual staff members to hand-select and rate which coupons are featured, as well as ensure that every coupon offered on the site remains current, and is removed when expired. 100% of their revenue is generated from online shoppers and bargain hunters.

“We are deeply concerned about the implications for free speech, as well as internet security that SOPA and PIPA legislation represent,” said Justin Bowen, CEO of CouponBuzz.com, earlier today. “The ability to navigate the internet freely and safely is essential for our customers, and we feel that these new laws put that in jeopardy.”

Elements of the SOPA and PIPA Act that have websites like CouponBuzz.com so concerned are DNS filtering, degradation of content delivery networks (like Netflix), and the infringement claim process. As currently written, the legislation requires websites to strictly police user-generated content (like comment forums and postings), and opens them up to government shut-down if an accuser feels they are not doing well enough at policing potential copyright infringement.

The legislation also fails to distinguish between sites that share the same domain name but could be radically different. For example, one blogger that is guilty of copyright infringement could shut down the entire blogspot.com domain. Furthermore, it only takes one copyright infringement claim for the US government to have the right to entirely shut down a website. Although the legislation purportedly only targets foreign websites, it contains no checks and balances against wrongful use by companies claiming an infringement when there is none. As Mozilla.com puts it on their website statement, “Your favorite websites, both inside and outside the US, could be blocked based on a single infringement claim, without any due process of law.”

The PIPA Act, if passed, would be enforced by redirecting traffic from the DNS server of the ‘guilty’ site to a different page which would state that the US government has mandated the move. Essentially, this is a legalized hack, unfortunately utilizing a procedure that security companies are even now attempting to make impossible or much more difficult with DNSSEC processes, a type of enhanced security that would be illegal under this legislation.

Like many other well-intentioned laws that manage to get passed, the PIPA Act would simply place more power in the hands of the guilty. Above board sites would have difficulty operating, and be subject to a less secure environment, while rogue sites would simply re-route traffic to a different DNS server. Users have demonstrated over and over again that they are more than willing to ‘click here’ if it gets them to the desired content, regardless of safety implications. Consequently, it is doubtful that the legislation would have any real effect on reducing piracy in the first place.

CouponBuzz.com believes that copyright infringement is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and that SOPA and PIPA Acts do contain thoughtful legislation within them that should be preserved. However, as currently written, they dangerously overreach the boundaries of free speech, creating a power imbalance in favor of big government that could adversely impact the social and business use of the internet for millions of users worldwide. Today Google.com features a black bar over their website logo. It’s a powerful image of censorship that resonates with everyone who lived through the cold war. For CouponBuzz.com, it is a reminder that daily freedoms often taken for granted can too-easily be destroyed in the name of protection.

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Justin Bowen
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