Internet blackout crucial step in preventing SOPA and PIPA
Many major companies, including Google, American Express, Facebook, Zynga and Wikipedia, to name a few, believe that these bills would curb their profits and keep the Internet from being a place of free exchange and communication. They are entirely right. Sites like YouTube and Facebook would be open to litigation for videos posted by their users. Google would be forced to remove “blacklisted” sites from its search registry, even though the requirements for blacklisting sites are arbitrary and unfair.
By going dark, these sites attempted to make the American public aware of an issue that is incredibly important. These bills could radically change the way the Internet operates for everyday users (How many of us use Google, Facebook or Wikipedia on a daily basis?)
Until now, the companies have done everything they could to make sure that these bills don’t pass. In November, Google, Facebook, Mozilla, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay, AOL, LinkedIn and Zynga sent a letter to Congress urging it to find a better alternative than these bills to stop online piracy.
These sites going dark is not an issue of companies trying to blackmail Congress into doing what the companies want. Websites have not threatened to permanently take themselves offline in order to deprive the American public of the services they offer, and they never will, because they are corporations, and the money they stand to lose by taking themselves offline is immense.
Yesterday was entirely about media coverage, and it worked. The New York Times featured stories about the blackouts on its front page, both online and in print. CNN and FOXNews also had stories on the front of their Web pages. Millions of Americans are now at least aware of the potential issues with these bills and just how detrimental they can be.
But these companies can only do so much. Ultimately, when the Senate begins voting on Jan. 24th, it will not be up to Google and Facebook to decide what passes. They have shown us the problem, exposed it to the world; it is up to the rest of the American public to stop Congress from doing something harmful.
We don’t know what congressmen think this legislation will accomplish, but with the amount of support it has received, we think they are not really thinking about the consequences. It is up to us to let Congress know that we don’t approve of these bills and to let them know that they could really destroy the freedom of the Internet.