Internet on strike: websites go dark to protest SOPA and PIPA

18 Jan 2012

Wikipedia isn’t the only website to black out to protest draconian, anti-piracy laws that threaten the fabric of the internet. It has been joined by Craigslist and BoingBoing and in the coming hours by news-sharing site Reddit. Google blacked out its logo in the US.

At 5am (GMT) Wikipedia’s English-language site blacked out and will not be returning until 5am (GMT) tomorrow.

Hundreds of other US websites are scheduled to go dark as the web goes on strike to protest the legislation. Sites such as are seen as a rallying point for going dark, with instructions for social media strategies and various Javascript strike tools.

On Monday night, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was defeated in Congress. However, another piece of legislation called Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and dubbed ‘SOPA’s evil twin’ may yet pass through the US Senate.

Sites such as Reddit say it will go out of business if it is forced to implement the draconian measures of the legislation, while Silicon Valley leaders such as Google’s Sergey Brin warn that not only will the laws lead to censorship and monitoring similar to Iran and China, but would threaten innovation and the underlying architecture of the web.

Google’s chief legal counsel David Drummond wrote on the Google blog: “These bills would grant new powers to law enforcement to filter the internet and block access to tools to get around those filters. We know from experience that these powers are on the wish list of oppressive regimes throughout the world. SOPA and PIPA also eliminate due process. They provide incentives for American companies to shut down, block access to and stop servicing US and foreign websites that copyright and trademark owners allege are illegal without any due process or ability of a wrongfully targeted website to seek restitution.”

Google also posted an infographic explaining the potential impact of the legislation.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years