January 18th 2012: The Day The Internet Shouted ‘No’
January 18th 2012 will go down in internet history as the day that people from all over the world and different areas of tech, combined in a collective effort to protest against a threat to something that we all hold dear and rely on.
What caused such a swell of emotion, outrage and comradeship that would unite site owners as well as individuals to stand as one and protest? Two bills called SOPA and PIPA, that, should they pass, could effectively destroy the internet as we know it. Sounds a bit dramatic right, but scarily it’s the truth.
Why then would people outside the US care about this? For many reasons; for one, a lot of foreign governments look to the US, (for some bizarre reason the UK in particular) when it comes to legislation, and many people know that it’s only a matter of time until their country builds on these stupid and damaging bills. The UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy etc already have crazy laws regarding copyright because nothing has really changed in copyright legislation, and the corporate lobbyists have been in the pockets of the law makers for a while now (Peter Mandelson is an example of just how corrupt a politician can get – see the Digital Economy Act and how it was basically written by the paying corporate lobbyists). Also, it will not only effect US internet users, but everyone.
Infringement is a problem, I’ll not deny that, but using a sledgehammer to crack an egg isn’t the way to go about curtailing it. The bills are too damaging and will have a massive and far reaching impact on what people can do or say on-line. As Reddit’s co-founder Alexis Ohanian said earlier this week, ‘Innovate, don’t legislate’. For a more detailed look at SOPA/ PIPA and what the effects of the bills will be, check out my article here.
Know this, these bills will not even touch piracy, and the creators of the bills know this. This is about control of the internet and the flow of information FULL STOP. Why else would they throw $94 Million in lobbying at the US to get this law past. Which is why today was so important at getting the message across to people and informing them of the destructive nature of the bills and letting the US senate know how we feel about it, and not letting these bits of legislation pass as they will, (trust me on this) be built upon in the future to be far worse than they are now.
Whilst writing this post, I also happened to come across a Downfall Parody that someone had posted back in December 2011 which actually sums up a lot of peoples reactions to SOPA and the absurdity of it all. The sad thing is, is that videos like that could soon be a thing of the past, as could most of the content you currently enjoy. Bit of humour to an otherwise very serious day.
So let’s take a look at some of the different ways (in no particular order) the various sites out there made their protest. Having looked at my list of sites that were due to take part, I did notice that some didn’t even though they signed up to it. Two very big names have been very absent from the protests. Firstly Twitter, who’s CEO Dick Costolo earlier this week called the protests, ‘Foolish’ and then went on to sat that he was going to do something, and to ‘Watch This Space’. Yeah, didn’t do anything AT ALL. Secondly, Facebook also did absolutely noting at all to support the protest, but instead left it up to their users to change their profile pictures instead. It wasn’t until ZDNet released an article complaining about the lack of support from Facebook, that Mark Zuckerberg released a statement.
To the sites below, we salute you!
Commander.tk - Love it. Straight to the point
CHEEZEBURGER (their entire network of sites – Kudos +1)
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Wikipedia - Another powerhouse in the support of opposing these bills. They are going dark for 24hrs.
Video Game Generation
Torrent Freak - One of the main educators in informing people as to what is happening at the hill and how SOPA/PIPA work.
TechDirt – Another one of the main educators in informing people as to what is happening at the hill and how SOPA/PIPA work. Some great articles on this site. Great work Mike.
School of Information Studies Syracuse University
Run and Punch
Rock Paper Shotgun
Reddit – Special mention for being a huge supporter in this. Even captured the countdown just before hitting the final second (sad, I know)
Red 5 Studios
Packet Storm Security
My Site, TechFleece. I went dark for 23hrs (started midnight UK time on 18th) and used 2 different blackouts as the first one was a bit too transparent.
MLG - Major League Gaming
Live Cultures Web
Google.com – People have been giving Google a hard time for not going dark. This is wrong as they have done more that pretty much most people in fighting this.
Google Landing Page (gave users the ability to contact congress)
Geek Culture – These themes that people used here are amongst the best of the day. Great coding skills went into this design.
FroKnowsPhoto – One of my favorite sites for learning about the techniques of photography. Keep it up Fro!
Free Internet Press
Freak Out Nation
Flickr – Gave users the ability to ‘Darken’ their or others images for 24hrs. I did a couple of Trey Ratcliff’s to test first. Sorry Trey
EFF - Electronic Frontier Foundation. Also massively against these bills and in educating people.
I shall be adding more as the day goes on, so if I have missed yours out, and lets face it, thousands of sites participated so I can’t get to them all, them I’m sorry. Let me know and I’ll swing by to get a screen grab.