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Dec 30 2011

Major sites consider going dark in opposition to new Internet legislation

You may not have heard much about the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA over the last few weeks. Holidays can be like social Trojan horses when it comes to unpopular new laws. But the netroots has heard of it — we’re against it — and now the Internet giants of our era are considering a dramatic move to bring the ill-conceived idea into the harsh scrutiny of the soon to be very pissed-off public eye:

(C/Net) — When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA, you’ll know they’re finally serious.

I remember as an adolescent a local election in central Texas, circa 1975. One speaker stood up and announced he was running simply to bring voice to the public. His idea was to use the burgeoning cable network spreading through the Hill Country at the time to connect citizens into a network of voters. At the time I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Today that man looks like a visionary! I wish I could remember his name.

 The corporate netizens considering pulling the plug temporarily have a combined page view total of about … hell I dunno, billions of hits a day? They would have full use of targeted messaging, meaning through cookies and other Internet devices, not only could they tell you your Senator or Congressman, they could nail it down to the local schoolboard and precinct captain, complete with auto email address and skype phone link displayed. All it might take is a single click to send a predetermined message or leave a pre-recorded voicemail.  So, yes, this would certainly get noticed and I think it’s a damn good idea. DC politicians and K-Street lobbyists would literally not know what hit them. And if it worked here, you better believe a whole new vector of netizen activism would be unleashed bypassing the traditional centers of paid influence.

May you live in exciting times.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    jamessweet

    It occasionally occurs to me that my ability to do my job would be significantly hampered if Google were to go dark. This was driven home recently when I was just starting to tool around with Ruby on Rails for the first time, and the place I went to work on it was supposed to have wi-fi but I couldn’t get it to work with my laptop. I had all the software local to my laptop, so I didn’t really need the internet per se… but I didn’t have a book on Rails yet, and I was just getting started with even learning Ruby. Usually, for anything with a reasonable amount of online documentation, that’s not a problem. But with no Google….!

  2. 2
    The Lorax

    Exciting times indeed. The Internet is an absolutely fascinating medium, with still a vastly untapped potential which in turn is ever-growing due to the relentless advance of technology.

  3. 3
    ogremk5

    This would actually be an interesting experiment in another situation. Can the global economy survive for a day without the internet.

    Oh, it would survive, but it would really be neat to see the stats on e-commerce and such for that day.

  4. 4
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    It would be fascinating. My guess is it could shut down congressional switchboards and jam email accounts in the space of a few minutes.

  5. 5
    Daniel Fincke

    This would be so awesome. Too awesome, so it will never happen.

  6. 6
    VeritasKnight

    It’s not even that the internet would be shut down: just a few critical junctions. Of course, if Google took such a move, I expect that any number of sites would follow. I’m quite sure that there’d be an overwhelming public response as people realize that the Internet is serious.

  7. 7
    Crommunist

    Ugh. The libertarian in me is rejoicing over the idea of “going Galt” to protest government overreach. Of course, it also thinks that the black part of me doesn’t deserve legally-mandated defense from discrimination, so fuck that guy.

  8. 8
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Crommunist

    Except bizzarely Google is the little guy in this fight. It’s not going galt, it’s like the end of Bugs Life. It would be pointing out that the law negatively effects the average person and shouldn’t be passed just because the ubber powerful want it.

  9. 9
    leftwingfox

    It is worrying to me that the only ones with enough clout to go up against big corporations are… other big corporations.

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