SOPA Gives Rise to the Voice of the Internet Community
January 18th, 2012 found an Internet community that may have finally shook off its timid boy in the basement image. This was the day when browsing to Google.com found the logo covered with black duct tape and Wikipedia showing an anti-SOPA legislation page instead of that article about Carrie Nation that you were looking for.
Countless Internet websites and content providers took up arms, so to speak, and expressed unity with the movement. Google offered the opportunity to sign a petition against SOPA/PIPA and had 4.5 million signatures in 24 hours.
Twit.tv broadcasted all of their programming in black and white, Wired.com censored their own content with black bars reminiscent of declassified documents like those seen on investigative news shows.
Information from proponents of the legislation cite the need to stop piracy and preserve intellectual property rights. Those against claim dangerous ambiguity in the wording and technical issues that would essentially put the U.S. government in the role of a proxy to your Internet browsing and break a number of current and future security measures in the process. Arguments against also highlight the ineffectiveness the measures would have on stopping piracy as well as degradation of the user experience.
Former Senator Chris Dodd and current MPAA CEO has called the actions of participating web content providers a "gimmick" with further commentary reminiscent of the former President Bush's "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists" rhetoric.
Sweeping measures to combat illicit activity aren't new to U.S. politics. With ax-handle diplomacy Carrie nation set the stage for the 18th Amendment to the U.S. constitution. It took the 21st amendment to attempt to reverse the resulting rise in organized crime and alcohol related deaths related to dubious sources of bootleg alcohol.
It's an issue not well suited to the 30 second sound bite regardless of how traditional media chooses to frame it. The devil is in the details and it is the details that have opponents to SOPA/PIPA up in arms.
More information is available from a number of sources too numerous to list here but a simple google search, a viewing of any of Twit.tv's programs from January 18th or a visit to Tim O'reilly's google plus page are good places to start.