Life On Earth
Blackout Day: The Internet Strikes Back
Recently, as many of you know, the United States has been trying to push through two very controversial bills titled the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Now, what these two bills are, and what they entail, is the effort of politicians woefully out of touch with reality to curb cyberspace piracy. A noble enough goal, you might say... until you read the fine print. To make a long explanation short, these two bills are so vaguely worded and give such broad powers that they are dangerous not just to the U.S., but to any internet website which depends on any company inside of the U.S., which means advertisers, credit card companies, domain hosting companies, things of that nature.
Needless to say, we at Educated Earth do NOT support SOPA and PIPA. Though the idea behind them is (in theory) altruistic by protecting the copyrights of those who hold them, the ability of anybody claiming copyright violations to basically annihilate an online business without providing solid proof is far, far too dangerous to online innovation and expansion.
All is not without hope, however. On Wednesday, January 18th, over ten thousand websites across the internet observed a Blackout protest. Websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit went dark for 12 hours. Google protested as well, but to be perfectly blunt, Google is such a titan across the web that shutting down and blacking out simply wasn't realistic. Instead, they posted links to articles explaining how they, too, are opposed to this legislation.
It worked, too. A lot of support for SOPA has crumbled in the last 24 hours of the writing of this article. Up to 10 U.S. representatives have withdrawn their support, as well as a few lobbying corporations. Awareness of the two bills and their consequences have spread across the net like a wildfire.
Not everybody was so willing to help, though. Twitter's CEO Dick Costelo, upon being asked of Twitter was going to join the protest, is quoted as tweeting, "That's just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish.".
Well, perhaps. In regard to Twitter itself, it might be understandable why they would not or could not go dark. After all, Twitter is a very popular communications platform. However, the idea that global businesses shouldn't worry about it isn't valid. Any website which uses Paypal, for example, as a relied-upon means to gain revenue can be targeted. Any company that does business with companies in the United States can be effected by these two bills. Protesting them is most certainly not silly.
All that being said, the fight isn't over yet. SOPA may not be quite as popular as it was on Tuesday, but its sister bill, PIPA, still poses a threat. Raise awareness, write to your local representative if you live in the United States, spread the word to as many as you can if you don't. Yesterday, the internet struck back, but the war has only just begun.
- Timothy Smith
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