SOPA Blackout – Are You In?

On last Wednesday, 18th January, many internet users experienced something completely unthinkable! More than 7,000 high-traffic websites – including Amazon, Google, Reddit, and last but not the least, Wikipedia – supported or blacked out to protest SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act).The act of wide protest made many co-sponsors of the Senate bill to withdrew their support. Hence, the attempt at web censorship came to a grinding halt…. as for now. Read on to know more about the SOPA blackout and did it affect you.

Voice of Protest!
As per reports, supporters like Sen. Roy Blunt, Sen. Orinn Hatch and Sen. Marco Rubio all decided to withdrew from the Senate Bill. They distanced themselves from it as people demanded it.

Wikipedia blacked out at midnight and many more Internet giants followed suit, while major players such as Facebook and Google preferred to take a seat on the bench. However, they placed banners supporting the act of protest. For example, Google blacked out it logo and Craiglist and Amazon posted clear messages blasting the bills.

The Ensuing Battle!
Internet giants argue that the Bill can lead to closure of legitimate websites, violates free speech and hinders innovation. Finally, it could give the U.S. government the ultimate power to shut down sites at their own whim. The SOPA and PIPA Senate bill were anticipated to be voted on January 24, although it has lost adherence.

But there are many who criticize this black out. As per Lamar Smith (the Texas representative who introduced SOPA for the first time in October), the act of protest was just a “publicity stunt” as reported by Forbes.com. Also, he promised that he will reintroduce the Senate bill to the House in February for discussion. Hence, one must keep his/her eyes and ears open, as it seems as if the battle is far from being over.

Got Affected by the SOPA Blackout?
As mentioned-above, many high-traffic websites like Wikipedia blacked out to allow users know about their opposition to SOPA. Well, do you think you were affected by this act of protest and did it provoke you to take any action? Here are few observations about the whole thing:

  • How much do we use Wikipedia on a daily basis, both professionally and casually. We extensively use Wiki to know and learn about a wide array of topics. It does make a reader’s life easier, and the blackout can make this learning trickier.
  • It was amazing to see how many websites actively participated in the protest in their own ways.
  • If you carefully observed, you might have noticed how websites used different techniques to black out their content.
  • Many were skeptical about how the blackout would annoy people more than inform, but knowing the response via the social media channels and web, most of the Internet users supported the blackout.

I do believe in respecting other people’s work and copyright issues, however, I also oppose the Draconian power authorization to protect intellectual property. This stringent authority can actually be the commencement of censorship via the back door.

Irrespective of different opinions, ask yourself one imperative question – are you in?

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