On January 24, 2012, the Senate will be voting about the PROTECT IP Act, also known as PIPA. This legislation can be used to effectively censor any website on the internet that accepts user content, regardless of whether they are actually infringing on copyrights in any way, shape, or form.
On January 18, 2012, Congress will once again discuss the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA not only allows a court to order the blocking of a website through measures such as DNS blocking or other ‘appropriate measures’, but also allows a private party to cut off funding to a website without court involvement.
Both of these proposals are incredibly dangerous to the internet and to the freedom of speech of individuals. The blocking mechanisms that are defined (such as DNS blocking) are so trivial that any dedicated or tech-savvy ‘pirate’ will easily circumvent them, but other sites that have nothing to do with ‘piracy’ will suffer; as their users are often not computer literate enough to bypass SOPA. Ironically this legislation does not affect the people it is targeting. Even if you don’t live in the United States, you will be affected by this legislation, as much of the core internet infrastructure is located in the US.
Apart from the technical blocking measures, another serious problem is the ability of a private entity to shut down the money flow of a website without any involvement of a court. By making payment providers and advertisement networks liable for the websites they provide services to, they can be bullied into cutting off services to any website that is accused of infringing copyright; whether guilty of this act or not, it does not matter. This would allow companies to shut down and censor almost any site they don’t approve of without even going to court – after all, most sites can’t survive without a source of income.
On January 18, between 8am and 8pm EST (or 13:00 and 01:00 UTC), Reddit will be blacking out their website in protest of SOPA and PROTECT IP. We request all website administrators worldwide – and especially those running large user-content websites – to black out their website at the same time, to voice their opposition of SOPA and PROTECT IP. This legislation may very well not only change the future of the internet as a whole, but also change the future of YOUR website. Act against it before it’s too late.
We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.
If you don’t own a website, you can still add a banner to your Twitter profile image to show your opposition of SOPA: http://www.blackoutsopa.org/
To learn more about the financial contributions of the media and internet industries to the various involved politicians involved in the SOPA vote, and their actual stance, have a look athttp://projects.propublica.org/sopa/ .