A couple of months have passed since the SOPA/PIPA uproar, and things on the online rights front have simmered down quite a bit, for the most part -- Megaupload and related happenings aside. One organization hasn't forgotten the promises it made in the heat of the moment, however: the Wikimedia Foundation. If you remember, Jimmy Wales said Wikipedia would transition away from GoDaddy's services because of the registrar's support for the controversial bill. That transition is currently underway, Wikimedia revealed in a blog post Wednesday.
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.
As Wikipedia sits silent and dark for legions of despondent would-be users (who, apparently, never thought of Googling for some help around the blackout), a trio of old-school publications have stepped into the void to try and replace the collective knowledge of the Internet. The Washington Post, the Guardian, and NPR have been taking tweets from information-deprived Webizens and trying to provide answers to all life’s questions, large and small. Just smack an #altwiki tag at the end of a question and the combined brainpower will try to supply you with an honest-to-goodness answer.
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.
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.