Fade to black tomorrow over SOPA?

There’ll be an online protest of sorts tomorrow. Markos has a post up on Daily Kos saying we have a gimmick up our sleeve (No, I don’t know what it is). There are rumors other sites — which may or may not include FTB — will do something as well. Why you ask? The cyber ruckus is about the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA. The actual ledge won’t pass, it’s been getting hammered in new media anyway and doused in the House and Senate, it’s unlikely Obama would sign it even if it did pass at this point, but you won’t hear much about SOPA from traditional media. They’re owned by corporate congolmerates who figure … it’ll be good for bidness. The events rumored for tomorrow, whatever they may be, are done simply to raise awareness, to educate the powers that be about how wonderful our links and quote boxes really are for them, and worst case, serve as a friendly shot across the bow of traditional media and centers of influence.

The language in the various versions of this crap so far proposed is full of slippery terms that could be read a number of ways. Some of those ways suggest that simply posting a quote box with a link and a few lines of text from another site could be grounds for legal shenanigans; like suing, issuing take down notices, all that stuff. You’d think online entities of any kind would welcome the traffic, by which we all live and die. Apparently, no one’s worried in traditional media, because with a few notable exceptions, I haven’t seen much in the way of open discussion on the topic on cable or network news.

Here’s the thing that fueled good intentions behind the whole idea: right now there are places in the world where hackers and other online thieves can operate freely. From identity thieves stealing and selling credit cards, to phishing scams beginning Dear Sir or Madam, to businesses that hack user accounts to steal virtual currency from matrix economies like World of Warcraft or Second Life and sell it to other community members for real money. The latter is a cottage industry btw, the governments of some nations see those virtual economies as running on monopoly money and therefore stealing it is not a real theft. Those crooks can’t exist without the tacit cooperation of local and regional governments.

But we in the US or wherever can’t do much about it. The servers and hackers and networks are outside our jurisdictions and influence. But we could put heat on search engines or sites that enable those bad guys. Problem is, on any given Sunday that’s practically the whole Internet! It’s kind of like free speech: the only way to stop what many of us might consider horrific, sick people from saying horrific, sick shit is to cast a very wide net that would inevitably snare people of all kinds. Possibly including me and you. Or think of the Internets kind of like highways and bridges; the same roads that our economy runs on allow crooks to operate too.

That’s the flaw in SOPA, it’s either workable and therefore so broad it could cause more harm than good, it’ll end up being so arbitrary it turns into a method of political sabotage — and you better believe sites chock full of atheists or other scapegoated minorities will not prosper under that deal — or it will be so narrow it won’t have the desired effect. Worst case scenario, all fucking three.

Screw it, why take the chance. Just to make the point, I’m not gonna link any tradmed sites thru Saturday. I’m sure they can’t get by fine without my help. Only blogs and bloggers linked for the rest of this week.


  1. says

    Well I recently became a citizen of the US, so I wrote to ‘my’ Sens and Rep. Of course since I’m down in TX, where most pols are evil, prob won’t do any good.
    Though it was satisfying telling them that I won’t vote for them if they support the bills, without actually specifying the conditions under which I would vote for them (i.e. an impossible freeze in an impossible place).

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