Sites Go Dark in the Fight Against SOPA -- and Win. . . For Now
Did you have any trouble accessing your favorite sites last Wednesday? Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, Wordpress.org, TwitPic, Good Old Games and a couple of handfuls more shut down on Jan. 18 to participate in the largest online protest in history.
You were unable to Google these guys as they blacked out to demonstrate what the future could hold for the internet world if SOPA and PIPA were to be passed.
No, we are not talking about the Middleton sisters, but in fact, two bills that could potentially change the way we surf the net. The Stop Online Piracy Act and its sister, the Protect IP [Intellectual Property] Act, are designed to secure the problem with foreign-based sites selling pirated movies, music and more.
Many have argued that the bills undermine free speech and make it possible for the government to take down any site that includes links to pirated content. They also give the Justice Department more authority to stop U.S. companies from providing funding to the foreign sites. It would also block access by making it impossible to type in web addresses to these sites or by requiring Google and other search engines to disable links to the pirated pages.
The way the House bill is written is so broad that SOPA and PIPA opponents fear that some of the most visited online sites, such as Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter that rely heavily on content uploaded by users which can then be pirated, could be targeted.
Thanks to our favorite pages turning their lights out, the public was alerted of the seriousness of the bill, showed us all how our lives could potentially be affected, and the bills were tossed to the trash -- for now, anyway.
On Jan. 20, Congress shelved the bill. SOPA and PIPA were supposed to be debated and voted on, but after the protest, the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, released a statement explaining that they would be postponed. Pheeew.