Thursday, January 19, 2012

Internet’s Blackout Revolution: Waging War Against SOPA and PIPA

The information superhighway has all its virtual bandoleers ready with their own version of ammunition. Yes, almost everyone online has already waged war against the bills Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). Hundreds of websites are now on strike...and lawmakers from the opposing side are gradually being convinced to jump ships! I have a hunch that more of them will disavow the bills in the coming days.

Way to go, internet! But the fight is far from over. “In just 7 days, the Senate will vote on forever altering the free and open internet by instituting a new regime of extra-judicial, corporate-led website takedowns. This is a fundamental fight about who has power in society — the people with the means to communicate freely or the governments and corporations that feel threatened,” says an email that is being passed from one netizen to another.

I myself belong to the Anti-SOPA army. I'm a blogger. A writer. A literary critic. A budding artist. A shutterbug. I want the Internet to remain the beloved virtual school and home I've known for a bunch of years, a place where I can freely express my opinions, share my thoughts, and expand my creative horizon. It contributed a lot to my growth, to be honest. I have it to thank for what I am today, and what I will be...if SOPA and PIPA will not win on the 24th.

If they decide not to shelve (or better yet, KILL) the bills, it will affect not only the United States but also many countries around the world—including the Philippines, I reckon.  The unregulated Internet may have spawned a couple of plights, but it has also given birth to a lot of life-changing developments that our society can consider as boons.  While I believe there is a need to formulate a solution for piracy in the internet, I don’t think censoring or completely shutting down websites without due process is the right answer. Imagine the harrowing collateral damage it will entail! Our basic internet freedoms are being pushed onto the chopping block; even people who are not very well-versed with the Constitution know this is an infringement of the freedom of speech/expression and other related rights.

Is George Orwell right? Did he hit the bull’s eye of our future, as told in his novel 1984? It’s scary, but I’m kind of seeing it now. Dictatorial power is what the American government is trying to get, and recognizing the power of Internet, they made it their first target.  They will get this coveted power once the bills pass through the Congress. There is no going back once the ‘blacklist’ system is established. The effect of US government’s every action and decision will ripple throughout the world, and by that time you should be ready to welcome the gradual arrival of a 2012 dystopia.  I wish I’m kidding.

How SOPA Would Work

Here’s a video with the infographic from showing the gist of SOPA:

The Internet Blacklist Bills

And here’s additional information provided by the Read Write Web:

SOPA (bill text) sets up a variety of ways for the U.S. government to block sites that are seen to be infringing on intellectual property. The bill is tailored towards the entertainment industry to protect movie studios, TV networks and record labels from having foreign websites illegally copying and distributing copyrighted works.
Along with the Protect IP Act of 2011, here are the ways the U.S. government can enforce the proposed laws.
1. Force ISPs to block access to Domain Name System servers to infringing foreign sites. Here is the pertinent portion of Section 102 of SOPA: A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name's Internet Protocol address. 
2. Force search providers to make such sites that have been flagged as infringing undiscoverable. Prevent the foreign infringing site that is subject to the order, or a portion of such site specified in the order, from being served as a direct hypertext link. 
3. Force payments processors to shut down the ability for infringing sites to make money. Suspend its service from completing payment transactions involving customers located within the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and the payment account. 
4. Force Internet advertisers to cease doing business with an infringing site. Prevent its service from providing advertisements to or relating to the foreign infringing site that is subject to the order or a portion of such site specified in the order.

The Phalanx Against the Internet Blacklist Bills

Last month, Techcrunch have listed at most 40 internet companies that came out publicly against SOPA. I can’t find an updated roster but I’m pretty certain the number upped a notch today, and will continue to rise as the date of the voting nears. Here are some of the websites flaunting their ‘blackout pages’ and statements to protest the bills.


Okay, while Facebook doesn’t have a ‘blackout’ page of any kind, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg  released an official statement today. Yep, they’re against the bills as well:
The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet's development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet.

The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals. I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-internet.

You can read more about our views

Google Blackout

Lawyer David Drummond prepared an post on Google’s official website explaining their position on the issue.
Fighting online piracy is extremely important. We are investing a lot of time and money in that fight. Last year alone we acted on copyright takedown notices for more than 5 million webpages and invested more than $60 million in the fight against ads appearing on bad sites. And we think there is more that can be done here--like targeted and focused steps to cut off the money supply to foreign pirate sites. If you cut off the money flow, you cut the incentive to steal. 
Because we think there's a good way forward that doesn't cause collateral damage to the web, we're joining Wikipedia, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Mozilla and other Internet companies in speaking out against SOPA and PIPA. And we're asking you to sign a petition and join the millions who have already reached out to Congress through phone calls, letters and petitions asking them to rethink SOPA and PIPA.

Reddit Blackout
It’s actually a gif, but it’s kind of NSFW. :) Click here to view it on their official website.



And last but not the least...


Yep, that's Cinderella in Rubber Shoes today! There's a script going around Tumblr that allows you to put a "SOPA blackout" banner on your site. It can be circumvented by clicking anywhere. :)


  1. This make me so nervous and angry. It cannot go through! I love that the internet is fighting back - and winning some ground.
    It's not very ideal that so many websites are run in the US. It gives these bills so much power.

  2. Yes! Just proves how powerful the netizens are when they join forces (that can have two ironic effects though: either it will discourage the supporters of the bills or it will ENCOURAGE them to keep on pushing for SOPA and PIPA, seeing the power of the Internet). Or maybe I'm just paranoid. Haha! I heard that SOPA was shelved, while PIPA is still being considered. I really hope they won't go through.