Remember when your mom said whining never helped anything? Turns out she was wrong! Ever since the day the 'Net went dark, politicians -- ranging from Congressmen to presidential candidates to European Internet czars -- have been tripping over themselves as they backed away from the political hot potato. This morning, even more heartening events occurred: the lead sponsors behind the bills announced that both PIPA and SOPA have been shelved indefinitely.
Yesterday's SOPA/PIPA protests were unprecedented -- for the first time, the Internet as a whole banded together, users and websites alike, and we flexed our collective muscles to tell the government (as Craigslist put it), "KEEP THOSE CLAMMY HANDS OFF THE INTERNET." In typical Washington fashion, several Senators and Congressional Representatives quickly changed their minds about the bills. But just how effective was all the e-complaining? Since the effort was so widespread, nailing down exact numbers is difficult, but let's take a peek at the ones we managed to dredge up.
You've probably read the soundbites: critics say that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act working their way through Congress will stifle technological innovation, trample free speech and unravel the Web as we know it. Thousands of websites have “gone dark” and shut down for at least a portion of the day just to protest the depths of the bills’ combined sucktitude. But do you really know why SOPA sucks? (Hint: The answer’s different now than it was a few weeks ago.) Do you know which websites joined the blackout? Do you know what YOU can do to help? No? You will after reading this.
Websites with a beef against over-reaching legislation have drawn a line in the sand; today, many of them are following Reddit’s lead and going black to protest SOPA and PIPA. The controversial bills have been under heavy fire recently, and the heat’s bound to increase when 25 million Joe and Jill Everymen find Wikipedia cold, dark, and urging readers to contact their Congressional representatives. But you’re not Joe or Jill Everyman. You’re a Maximum PC reader, a tech-savvy webizen who already understands that SOPA flat-out sucks. What if you need to get your Wikipedia (or Destructoid, or Boing Boing, or…) on today?
Don’t worry – there’s a way around the blackout if you know exactly what you’re looking for, thanks to the magic of Google’s all-encompassing cache.
Hey, did you know that Wikipedia, Google, Craigslist and Reddit are trying to turn you into their corporate pawns? We didn’t either, but to hear MPAA honcho Chris Dodd tell it, the “gimmick”y blackout darkening the Internet today isn’t actually a way for tech sites to spread awareness about a critical issue to a possibly uninformed segment of the population – instead, it’s just a “stunt,” an “abuse of power” designed to punish users and elected officials alike. In related news, two of SOPA’s and one of PIPA's co-sponsors have asked to have their names removed from the bill.
Even though SOPA’s odds of worming through into law are looking increasingly slim, it’s still a threat, as is PIPA, its sister bill in the Senate – and websites are lining up to combat it. After Reddit announced it would be blacking out on January 18 to protest the bill, a host of other organizations followed suit, culminating in Wikipedia’s announcement yesterday that it, too, would shut down tomorrow. Today, Google said it would lend its voice to the cause – but not with a full-fledged blackout. One of its employees also outlined how websites can blackout in a search-friendly way.
The Internet is going to be a cold, dark place on January 18th. After the Reddit team announced a few days back that the site would be down on that date as a protest to the proposed SOPA legislation, a couple of other organizations have decided to throw their lot in with Reddit and stage blackouts of their own. Namely, Minecraft, Destructoid, the iCanHazCheezburger family of sites, and Anonymous, the hacker group everybody loves to hate. Dozens of smaller sites such as Red 5 Studios and Errata Security will be shutting down as well. Even Wikipedia is considering a blackout.
Wikipedia. It’s so substantial and all-encompassing that it could kind of be considered a repository for the collective knowledge of our species. Since it’s all ones and zeros stored on servers around the world, there’s no threat of it burning down like the ancient Library at Alexandria did – at least not physically. Digital law can still bring it crashing down. The Italian version of Wikipedia is currently offline due to a law being proposed by the Italian Parliament that could have serious repercussions on Wikipedia – and all free speech – in that country.
While the UK’s busy nabbing alleged Anonymous members who like to pretend that they’re teenage girls, the Department of Homeland Security’s worried about their angry at-large cohorts over on the US side of the pond. In fact, DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center is pretty concerned about the threat of an Anonymous attack against the financial industry. Today, the NCCIC issued a security bulletin warning financial institutions that Anon is trying to "solicit ideologically dissatisfied, sympathetic employees" over to the dark side.
There’s a lot to hate about Rupert Murdoch’s media empire these days. The allegations leveled against what was once one of the mogul’s flagship publications run the gauntlet from unethical to disgusting, dragging journalism through the mud all along the way. Illegally tapping telephones in the name of an outrageous headline? Bribing law enforcement officials? Dead whistleblowers? It’s all so seedy and sordid. If you’re of a mind to protest all of this dire hullaballoo, boycotting Murdoch-owned publications and television stations is a good start, but to do it right, you’ll want to take the fight online as well. To make your online NewsCorp as easy a go as possible, the smart money’s on Murdoch Block, our Browser Extension of the Week.