Tech companies are getting ready to black out on Jan. 18 to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its sibling the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Much has been made of Wikipedia’s promise to “go dark,” or shut down the site, for the day as a way of warning what might happen if SOPA became law. The tech protesters say that SOPA would render any site that included links, even if they were user-submitted, practically unoperable and liable to government take-down. Going dark is a dramatic but not entirely unrealistic warning of what the Internet could look like in a SOPA world.
The blackout is a way to get the two bills into the mainstream by showing people outside the tech industry how their everyday lives could be affected by the bills. Wikipedia isn’t the only company shutting its digital doors according to SOPAStrike.com. It has a (as far as we can tell) full list of the blackout participants.
Sites Going Dark on Jan. 18 to Protest SOPA
- Tor Project
- iSchool at Syracuse University
- icanhazCheezburger Network
- Good Old Games
- Free Press
- XDA Developers
SOPAStrike.com also has a dizzyingly large list of sites “rumored” to be going dark though take these entries with a grain of salt considering Twitter and Facebook are both on the list despite saying they will stay online. The site also has resources on how to black out your own site including plug-ins and code such as Zachary Johnson’s STOP SOPA.
CloudFlare, a startup dedicated towards protecting and optimizing websites, has rolled out its own Stop Censorship app that makes it easy for website owners to temporarily black out portions of their sites.
Will the black out make any difference to the fight against SOPA? Would it matter if big companies like Wikipedia and Mozilla had dropped out? Sound off in the comments.
SOPA And PIPA: A Timeline Of How We Got Here
May 12: PIPA introduced
The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011), better known as PIPA was introduced into the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The act’s goals were described by its sponsors as protecting intellectual property and punishing foreign sites who post copyrighted material. If a site was discovered doing so, the U.S. attorney general could order U.S. based Internet service providers, search engines, payment systems and advertising networks to suspend doing business with the website.
Oct. 26: SOPA Introduced
Five months later, a similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Lamar Smith (R-TX) named the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. The bill was very similar to PIPA.
Nov. 15: Tech Giants Weigh In
Nov. 16: Tumblr, Mozilla, Others Post Anti-SOPA Messages
Dec. 15: House Meets
Dec. 29: GoDaddy Dump Day
Jan. 13: DNS Blocking Dropped
Jan. 14: White House Responds
In a blog post responding to a petition posted on the White House’s website, the Obama Administration clearly laid out what it would – and would not – support in any new legislation designed to combat online piracy.
“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response,” said the note, “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
Jan 18: A Day of Protest