(NaturalNews) On January 18, 2012, thousands of websites from around the world came out in protest of two pieces of legislation that threaten to censor the internet as we know it. Google, WordPress, Wired.com, Wikipedia, Tumblr, The Daily Paul, reddit, NaturalNews, and thousands of other websites censored portions or all of their homepages and content in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act
(HR 3261), and the Protect IP Act
(S 968), which would essentially give large media conglomerates and the federal government unbridled power to censor the internet.
The website SopaStrike.com says the protest is the "largest online protest in history," and its creators are urging everyone who encounters a censored page to contact their Congressmen and oppose both SOPA and PIPA. The page also contains a full list of confirmed participants in the blackout, as well as an "unfiltered list" of all additional sites that said they planned to participate:http://sopastrike.com/
Wired.com, for instance, participated in the protest by censoring most of the headlines from its landing page with black boxes, while Google did the same thing over its own logo -- both of the websites were still functional, however. The Daily Paul went even further by literally censoring all the content on its page, and redirecting all links to the SopaStrike.com page where defenders of freedom are encouraged to take action.
Over at reddit, which normally contains all sorts of user-submitted content, visitors were greeted with a "REDDIT IS DOWN," message, as well as live updates about the status of both SOPA
and PIPA. WordPress also took aggressive action against the two censorship bills by blocking all user content from its homepage.
Why SOPA and PIPA threaten legitimate web content with censorship
Last summer, NaturalNews warned that the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property
bill was basically a Trojan Horse that would allow the US government to bypass normal legal procedures in targeting websites that may contain, or link to, pirated content (http://www.naturalnews.com/033130_Protect_IP_Act_websites.html
). And its sister bill in the House of Representatives, the now infamous SOPA bill, threatens to do the very same thing (http://www.naturalnews.com/034682_SOPA_online_piracy_protest.html
Both bills have been crafted under the guise of protecting intellectual property rights against piracy, particularly overseas piracy by foreign websites, which is a valid purpose. But as we have said numerous times before, the broad scope of the language in the bills threatens many legitimate websites
with arbitrary takeover or shutdown by the US Justice Department, with powerful groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and others prompting and guiding this enforcement action behind the scenes.
Protest leads to temporary 'shelving' of SOPA, PIPA still to be voted on January 24
The outcry against SOPA and PIPA has been so loud and effective that, according to House majority leader Eric Cantor, SOPA will now be shelved, and no vote will take place "unless there is consensus on the bill." This decision represents a huge victory in the short term -- but a potential vote on the bill could still rear its ugly head at any time, and most likely at a time when nobody is looking (http://www.slashgear.com/sopa-shelved-after-obama-announcement-16209449/
PIPA is also still a threat as it is reportedly set to be vote on January 24. This is why it is important to continue bombarding Congress NOW with opposition to both bills. You can take action against SOPA and PIPA by visiting:http://sopastrike.com/
The full text of SOPA:http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3261
The full text of PIPA:http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.968