News of Note: “SOPA: US backers end support for anti-piracy bill“
Websites all over the Internet went black Wednesday in opposition of the SOPA and PIPA bills. This protest is the first of its kind and a powerful example of the power these websites wield.
The US news website Politico estimated that 7,000 sites were involved by early Wednesday morning.
Google did not shut down its main search but is showing solidarity by placing a black box over its logo when US-based users visit its site.
Online marketplace Craigslist asks site visitors to contact their representatives in Congress before moving on to the main site.
Visitors to Wikipedia’s English-language site are being greeted by a dark page with white text that says: “Imagine a world without free knowledge… The US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”
If users try to access its other pages via search sites, the text briefly flashes up before being replaced by the protest page. However, people have been sharing workarounds to disable the redirect.
WordPress’s homepage displays a video which claims that Sopa “breaks the internet” and asks users to add their name to a petition asking Congress to stop the bill.
You may be wondering how successful the blackout was. Thankfully there is good news to report; this unique internet protest did make a significant impact.
Eight US lawmakers have withdrawn their backing from anti-piracy laws, amid “blackout” protests on thousands of internet sites.
Two of the bill’s co-sponsors, Marco Rubio from Florida and Roy Blunt from Missouri, are among those backing away.
Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia and blog service WordPress are among the highest profile sites to block their content.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has branded the protests as “irresponsible” and a “stunt”.
Is it an abuse of power for these websites to render themselves unreachable? Absolutely not. Access to information, the Internet’s greatest strength, is in jeopardy, and that same strength must be used to protect it. This is only the beginning. As new and more contrived and strangely-worded bills are put on the table, the fight to protect the Internet will only increase in intensity. We must remain diligent, connected, informed, and active less freedom’s greatest tool (information) will be swept away from us.