Internet blackout in opposition to SOPA?

Despite the media paying little attention to the dangers of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) even as our own State Department is putting pressure on foreign governments to crackdown on piracy, some businesses opposing the legislation are preparing their own form of protest:

With debate over SOPA’s future tabled until Congress reconvenes, you might think the issue would have entered a similar lull, but that’s not happened. According to Markham Erickson, head of the NetCoalition trade association, there’s been talk of a so-called “nuclear option,” in which the likes of Google, Amazon, eBay, and Yahoo! would go simultaneously dark to protest the legislation to highlight the fundamental danger the legislation poses to the function of the internet.

There’s been no formal decision on the matter, and the companies in question obviously risk consumer anger and backlash over any suspension of services. There is, however, safety in numbers — and a few simple sentences identifying why the blackout is in place will ensure that the majority of the rage flows in the proper direction.

And it wouldn’t just be the companies listed above that are part of the association consider this action. Other companies that are a part of NetCoalition include Facebook, Twitter, and PayPal. MSNBC reports that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales conducted a survey gauging what kind of support a strike would get. According to the results, some 87% of responds expressed support for the idea.

While lobbyists for Hollywood and the music industry may have substantial pull in Washington to make a push for these protectionist and constitutionally troubling policies they want, these companies — innovators of the digital age — hold all the cards. As much as supporters of SOPA think they don’t need the Internet, they cannot survive without it.

But in order for such a strike to be successful, these companies will need supporters — not just in support on the web, but also engaging members of Congress to explain that SOPA would stifle innovation and promote censorship, even of legitimate speech, by the government online.

In other words, get active now or SOPA, which is expected to come up in the House Judiciary Committee later this month, will become law and more rights will be surrendered to the government, much like they were with NDAA.

 


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