Regaining consciousness post #blackout

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StopSOPA Internet blackout Wed 18 Jan 2012Along with the most caring and committed members of the internet community, I blacked out on Wednesday 18 Jan 2012 to protest the threat of internet censorship represented by America’s proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation. The first time I took part in an internet freedom campaign was two years ago, in The Great Australian Internet Blackout of 24-29 Jan 2010, followed by the StopACTA campaign at the end of August the same year. There’s been a steady stream of other activities targeting censorship or actions that threaten internet neutrality in between, with some wins, some losses.

It’s because I value having access to the internet and believe it is a powerful tool for change – though not a human right – that I try to play my small part by signing petitions or sharing news. I also took part in SIDA’s #net4change conference in Stockholm last October where, in addressing Internet and Democratic Change, internet freedom was plainly evident as the strongest pillar of support.

SOPA blackout overToday, as the lights are being turned back on across the web, others are waking up from oblivion. Information about the impact of yesterday’s protest offers reassuring proof that people are really beginning to catch on in large numbers. In the first 4 hours of the blackout, from 12am-4pm ET, there were 2.4+ million SOPA-related Tweets; Google says 4.5 million people signed the anti-SOPA petition; and according to WikiPedia, the SOPA protest led 8 million to look up their representatives in Congress. The role of social networking – and I especially congratulate the reddit community here – in lending a viral aspect to news sharing is undeniably powerful.

Many commentators have produced articulate and strong arguments to illustrate the reasons why SOPA and PIPA are wrong. The Pirate Bay published a succint press release that is worth reading in full. Here’s an extract:

The Pirate Bay is truly an international community. The team is spread all over the globe – but we’ve stayed out of the USA. We have Swedish roots and a swedish friend said this:
The word SOPA means “trash” in Swedish. The word PIPA means “a pipe” in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence. They want to make the internet into a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the rest of us obedient consumers.
The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you’ll learn that no one wants to be fed with trash. Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that you will stop them, before we all drown.

Wed 18 Jan 2012: Internet #blackout

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If a significant proportion of the web is on strike tomorrow in a black out, January 18th is going to be amazing! See SOPAStrike.com for masses of info on how to join, promote, agitate and a huge list of participating sites.

Jimmy Wales Wikipedia blackout SOPA PIPA TweetWikipedia

Wikipedia will blackout all 3,847,673 of its English-language articles in protest of the Protect IP Act (PIPA), according to co-founder Jimmy Wales.

Wikipedia is going black on Wednesday, January 18, to help fight the contentious Protect IP Act (PIPA), which is set to go for a vote before the Senate on January 24. The move, first reported by Neal Mann, digital news editor at Sky News, was announced by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the far-reaching online encyclopedia, on Twitter. Wales says the blackout was a “community decision.”

The blackout will only apply to English-language articles on Wikipedia — all 3,847,673 of them. It will run from 12am ET on Wednesday, through 11:59pm, says Wales, who estimates that as many as 100 million people will view the blocked protest pages.

Here are some of the bigger sites that will officially go dark on the 18th:

While now focused on PIPA, these planned blackouts were also originally intended to voice opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This past weekend, however, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told SOPA opponents in Congress that SOPA would not come up for a vote until consensus on the bill could be met. This follows a declaration from the White House that it would oppose any “legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet” — all of which SOPA and PIPA would do, according to critics of these bills.