Every one seems to be protesting the effort to censor the internet by SOPA and PIPA bills. Google and wikipedia blackout affected millions of people
18th January 2012 was a memorable day for the internet community. It was the first full scale online protest day against SOPA. A large number of websites, including Google and Wikipedia went dark in protest to the bill.
SOPA is a proposed online anti-piracy legislation, which is not being entertained as even vaguely helpful by the online community. The Stop Online Piracy Act is being viewed by the online community as a heavy cloak of censorship over the World Wide Web. The protest was so serious and all-encompassing that the effects were felt strongly by the political ends concerned with this bill.
The effect of the online protest was that there is little political support left for the bill now. The bill was initially backed by Florida Senator Mark Rubio and also being co-sponsored by him. After the protest was felt, he backed off from the bill. Other Congressmen also relented, saying that perhaps the bill was too rushed and not though through properly. By mid-day, House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged that there was a lack of consensus on the legislation.
The first online protest stood out with its show of scope, solidarity, and emotional unity. The message being sent out was enormously clear: SOPA is not wanted.
The website that began the protest was Wikipedia. It went dark, revealing a somber grey page that urged users to contact their representatives in Congress to ask that the House bill, along with its parallel Protect IP Act now stalled in the Senate, be deep-sixed. There were no answers on Wikipedia for the whole 24 hours, just the message. Then Google visitors found the search engine devoid of its multicoloured Doodle and instead found a black-armband in its place. Reddit users, on the other hand, found the message that declared that the “front page of the Internet,” was vowing “today we fight back.”
The legislation was flooded with calls and e-mails. Senator Rubio said regarding this influx of message, â€œCongress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.â€’
Media also took up the issue with full support and the protest was very widely covered. Holmes Wilson, co-founder of the non-profit online-freedom advocacy group Fight for the Future, said that he was surprised by the overwhelming support by users. He got a response of more than 75,000 people who signed up to strike on their sites, either with total blackouts or by posting a notice. 2 million visitors had visited his protest website by mid-morning.
Holmes said, â€œToday the Internet is revealing the power it has to defend itself. But this is about more than just Internet freedom. As we depend more and more on technology, all of our freedoms are in the balance, because they all depend on a free and open Internet and that’s being threatened.’â€
SOPA was tweeted, before the morning ended, 3 million times. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the super-famous community website Facebook, joined in saying that he considered such bills a threat. He tweeted, â€œTell your congressmen you want them to be pro-internet.â€ He chose this occasion to appear on Twitter and tweet for the first time in three years.