Along 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.
Today, 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.
- This Is the Internet After SOPA [PICS] (mashable.com)
- Google slows web crawlers to help blackout websites during protest effort (9to5google.com)
- Wed 18 Jan 2012: Internet #blackout (lissnup.wordpress.com)
- Internet #Blackout – threat or opportunity for activists? (lissnup.wordpress.com)
- Network Neutrality 101 – Why the Government Must Act to Preserve the Free And Open Internet (ACLU)