Hacker collective Anonymous has a reputation for targeting authoritarian regimes, and the government crackdown in Syria has led the group to begin hammering away. Anonymous has just released a cache of emails from the mail servers used by Syria's Ministry of Presidential Affairs. The correspondence contain plenty of dirty little secrets, but Anonymous also happily exposed dozens of terrible passwords.
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.
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.
As peaceful protests continue in Syria, the regime of president Bashar al-Assad had what must have seemed like a bright idea in the heat of the moment. As of today, Syria has banned the iPhone from the nation. Customs inspectors in the country will no longer allow shipments of the device in, and current users are strongly encouraged to stop using the iPhone. Take that, democracy.