United States lawmakers are considering two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), that post a threat to the openness of the web around the Globe. In response, many web sites are going on strike. Sites includes Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing, and Global Voices are “going dark” and will black out the Global Voices Advocacy site for 12 hours on January 18 beginning at 8 am. Other sites will provides more information about the proposed bills and a link to a send an email to lawmakers.
Global Voices has issued a statement explaining why they are supporting this Internet strike.
We are an international volunteer community dedicated to amplifying citizen media from around the world. In the last six years, we’ve produced more than 75,000 posts that link to blogs and other citizen content for readers in over 20 languages. Our content is free to use, and free to share. We rely on the open Internet to carry out our mission, and on social media and citizen media websites that allow for simple publication and sharing of content. Platforms like WordPress, Wikipedia, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Reddit, Tumblr, and many other online media production communities host content on which we base much of our work.
The passage of SOPA and PIPA by the United States Congress and Senate would force social media platforms and other web sites that host user-generated content to pro-actively monitor and censor users to prevent them from posting words or images that may violate copyrights. It would raise the cost of participation on these sites for all users worldwide, and could force many social media projects to shut down, especially smaller websites and businesses.
We are concerned this law would will inflict broad damage on the work of digital activists living under repressive regimes, as well as restrict basic speech freedoms around the world. Current copyright laws are occasionally misused in the U.S, and can result in de facto speech restrictions. In countries with less independent judicial systems, abuse of copyright law to repress activism is both simple and frequent.
According to Global Voices, even though the current version of SOPA was put indefinitely on hold this week, PIPA, the Senate version of the bill, is still alive. And the issues and forces that are driving the passage of a law are still at play. Global Voices, co-founder, Ethan Zuckerman co-authored this post with Joi Ito to explain why it is important to call attention to this bill on January 18th with the planned Internet strike.
Last month, Jim Fruchterman, of Benetech, shared this guest post, “Why I’m Scared of the SOPA Bill,” that explains how the bill could major problems for nonprofits as well.
I put together this pinterest board that includes additional information about the bills and the various protests and actions that are taking place tomorrow and this infographic explains the issues with the bill.
How the Strike Works
Sites are striking in all different ways, but they are united by sending site visitors to this site to send a message about the bill. Some web sites are going dark for the 12 hours my inserting this HTML. You can find lots of other tools to help do a strike: Zachary Johnson’s blackout page, ProtestSOPA.org, CloudFlare’s Stop Censorship app, and SOPA Strike WordPress Plugin. Like other Internet protests, they are asking people who want to participate by tweeting about the strike using the hashtag #sopastrike. They are asking supporters to go to Blackout SOPA to add ‘STOP SOPA’ to your Twitter image and post this SOPA Strike page to your Facebook account by clicking here. They also want you to them to tell everyone about the strike and direct them to this site to send an email.