Well, to be more accurate, we had already lost even before we protested.
Remember last Wednesday, when we all rallied around and lifted our unified voice in defiance to politicians that were trying to pass bills that would restrict internet freedom and innovation? We were trying to tell the government they shouldn’t have the power to unilaterally–and at their own whim and discretion–take down entire websites because of the sole actions of their users.
Remember how within the day of our protest, congressional websites were going down from all the traffic and sponsors of the bills were jumping ship? It was beautiful, wasn’t it?
And then we woke up the next morning to this.
Less than 24-hours after the largest internet protest in history, news broke that the largest file-sharing site in the world, Megaupload, had been seized by U.S. Government officials and it’s founders and owners were being arrested and charged with piracy and copyright infringement.
[NOTE: If you don’t have much time to spare, I would strongly recommend not reading the rest of my post and instead reading these analyses done by the Cato Institute and Glenn Greenwald. They are both excellent in explaining the subtleties of the issue and convincing in their outline of its dangerous precedents.]
UPDATE: I wrote a follow-up piece to this protest that might be worth your time if you care about this issue.
As many people know (especially in the circles that read this blog), today is the official “blackout day” for many sites in protest of two proposed bills before Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). They are each supposed to be attempts to address the problems of piracy and copyright infringement on the web.
First, let’s be clear. Most of the people opposing these bills are not trying to protect piracy and illegal activities. These are problems, to be sure. Those opposing these bills are merely saying that there are much better and much more specific ways to do this. The bills, as currently written are so broad in their scope and definitions, that most any website, and most every individual who currently casually uses the internet will at some point be guilty of the felonies spoken to in this bill. I am not exaggerating. I am not talking in extremes to scare people. (It almost makes one think the bills were intentionally written that way. They are also weighed down with a lot of political corruption.)
This is serious. Why?
Supporters of the bill are painting those that oppose it as merely reacting to the general idea of the bills rather than the “substance” of them. This is false. You may have heard that that the sponsors of the bill recently struck the “DNS blocking” provisions from the bills. This is not even close to the scariest part of the legislation. It is the very substance of it that is the scariest. I would really beg each of you to read the following few articles to get educated on the specifics of these bills, what’s wrong with them, and what to do something about it.
What to do?
Write your Representatives in Congress
If you go to the Wikipedia (English) homepage, for just today, you’ll see it’s blacked out in protest of the bills. If you input your zip code, you can find your representatives in Congress and convenient links to email or call them. Below, you will find the email I wrote to my Representatives and Senators (my senators’ emails are currently down due to heavy traffic. I’m hoping that’s a good sign). Feel free to use it as a template if you like. If you get this when Wikipedia’s tool is not available, you can also find your representatives at the House website and the Senate website. Please act!