They're turning off the web

Posted on 18th Jan 2012 by Scott Goodson in Blog

Due to governmental interference, the Internet will be turned off until further notice. Or at least, it’s getting 24 hours in the penalty box.

Don’t try to do any Wiki research today. Or indeed use WordPress for your blog. Because these giants of the internet have joined a mass online revolution of over 7,000 other websites which will leave us in the dark for 24 hours.

Now the barons of web are UPRISING and taking the net dark. The target of this voluntary black-out is the Senate and those pushing forward the new anti-piracy bills Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act – both of which aim to regulate the online world yet which opponents in the tech community say is too heavy-handed and instead quashes online freedoms.

The world wide web has truly got itself into a tangle over the proposed legislation, and the anti-SOPA/PIP movement has been cranking up the pressure over recent months in a bid to take the bills back to the drawing board.

Now the fact that Wiki founder Jimmy Wales is amongst the heavyweights backing the campaign adds real kudos to the cause. What’s interesting is how Wales threw Wiki into the movement by asking users themselves, discussing with ‘Wikipedians’ – the site’s contributors – whether it would be a worthy web protest.

The majority favoured action, and even Wales says it’s ‘extraordinary action for our community to take’ but that they simply couldn’t ignore the fact the bills set ‘a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world.’ If you visit Wiki today instead of the world’s largest free encyclopedia you’ll find instead local Congress contacts, so you too can lobby and participate in what has moved from tech-press debate to global movement.

But it’s ironic that whilst word of this protest has been spreading like wildfire thanks to the might of Twitter and other social sites, it’s going to be notably absent from tomorrow’s action. Indeed, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted that Wiki’s plans were ‘silly’ and ‘foolish’.

But it does seem that already those in power are listening. Even Barak Obama has recently appeared to side with the tech community, and so whilst SOPA in its current form is unlikely to go ahead, Protect IP is up for vote just days away on 24 Jan.

There’s no doubt this is unprecedented action by all sites taking part. No one shuts down a site as big as Wikipedia without careful consideration, and even Google is getting in on the action – albeit it without a black-out, but with a black banner across it’s logo on the homepage and link on the US homepage voicing its opposition.

‘SOPA Wednesday’ is a day that won’t be forgotten. Simply because it’s the first time the online big guns have stopped firing to back a cause they’re united in fighting. It heralds a real turning point in the debate not only over the bills they’re so against, but in just how far they’re willing to go to make their voices heard and ignite the masses to get off their asses and do something to protect the one thing we can’t live without.

blog comments powered by Disqus