(By Rebecca Lipman)
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced late October in the House of Representatives with the worthy goal of protecting content by cracking down on copyright and trademark issues. But tech giants, and indeed many internet users, are up in arms against the bill’s unintended consequences of effectively promoting censorship.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, who introduced the bill, and other proponents of the bill dismiss accusations of censorship. The say the legislation would crack down on “criminal behaviour” of foreign sites, like torrent services like The Pirate Bay, that are in violation of US copyright laws but are out of US jurisdiction.
Not so Fast…
Backlash has come from big tech companies like Google (GOOG), Facebook, AOL (AOL), eBay (EBAY), LinkedIn (LNKD), Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo (YHOO) and Zynga. These and others have lodged a formal complaint on Tuesday in the form of a letter sent to key Senate and House lawmakers. They acknowledge the bill is “well-intentioned but deeply flawed.”
“SOPA’s critics — some of the Internet’s most heavily trafficked sites — launched an awareness campaign on Wednesday. Hundreds of sites adopted black “STOP CENSORSHIP” logos, including BoingBoing, Reddit and the Electronic Frontier Foundation,” reports CNN. “Blogging site Tumblr blacked out words in its content feeds, and a message at the top of users’ dashboards read: “Stop The Law That Will Censor The Internet!”
The potential violations to free speech aside, this and a similar bill called the Protect IP Act will place a difficult burden on online services like search engines and payment processors. The laws would effectively mandate they closely monitor their websites and withhold services from targeted sites.
Follow the Trend
The laws would indeed place a strain on tech giants – does it have the potential to impact profits?
We list several tech giants, named above, who stand in protest of SOPA. Do you think the passing of this bill will adversely affect them?
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1. Google (GOOG): The world’s most popular search engine. Market cap of $198.05B. The stock has gained 4.78% over the last year.
2. AOL (AOL): Operates as a Web services company that offers a suite of brands and offerings for the worldwide audience. Market cap of $1.45B. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 15.59% (equivalent to 6.22 days of average volume). The stock has lost 41.13% over the last year.
3. eBay (EBAY): Provides online marketplaces for the sale of goods and services, as well as other online commerce, platforms, and online payment solutions to individuals and businesses in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $39.43B. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading -7.63% below its SMA20, -7.1% below its SMA50, and -6.69% below its SMA200. The stock has gained 1.33% over the last year.
4. LinkedIn (LNKD): Operates an online professional network. Market cap of $6.90B. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading -9.32% below its SMA20, -8.04% below its SMA50, and -10.98% below its SMA200. It’s been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.62% over the last week.
5. Yahoo (YHOO): Operates as a digital media company that delivers personalised digital content and experiences, across devices and worldwide. Market cap of $19.50B. The stock has lost 2.66% over the last year.
Interactive Chart: Press Play to see how analyst ratings have changed for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.