Northland Small Businesses Worried About SOPA and PIPA

By KBJR News 1

January 18, 2012 Updated Jan 18, 2012 at 7:17 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewCenter)
--If you went online to Google or Wikipedia today and noticed something strange, you're not alone.

Both sites open to a big black box across their name.

Two pieces of national legislation are creating chaos online and generating a public outcry against censorship on the internet.

Alex Althaus, a tech savvy University of Minnesota Duluth Junior has hopped on the anti legislation bandwagon.

"I do not agree with the censorship of the internet it completely goes against the constitution and it's just absolutely detrimental to our society as a whole"

He's not alone in his impression.

Protesters have taken to the streets and to the internet.

Websites like Google and Wikipedia are being blocked in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act legislation; bills that were designed to stop overseas hackers from streaming bootlegged movies and music online for free.

But according to Social Media Strategist Patrick Garmoe the bills would have unintended consequences like blocking efforts to help expand and grow small businesses.

Garmoe says the language in the bills could kill jobs.

"It's going to cause small businesses to, a lot of times, just shut down their websites because they can't risk having one person accidentally post a link on their website, if it's a comment or something like that to a copyrighted piece of information."

But according to Senator Al Franken, who co-sponsored the bill on the Senate side, the public outcry has brought about change to the bill.

"I think they see this as the camel's nose in the tent and that's what they are worried about. And I think that because of the response of Google and Wikipedia that the Chairman made a concession"

The Senator says they're looking at altering the part of the bill that could shut down websites that host illegal content.

But the more controversial "Stop Online Piracy Act" in the House remains unchanged, leaving many who use the web for their businesses worried.

The public outcry and black out of Google and Wikipedia have caused three co sponsors to drop their support.

Written for the web by: Zach Vavricka