Internet anti-censorship protest

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Wikipedia shuts down to protest censorship bills

18 January 2012

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, is shutting down for 24 hours today to protest internet censorship bills currently being considered by the US Congress.

The Wikipedia Foundation announced its plan to make the English-language Wikipedia “go dark” in a press release posted on its site Monday. The move will coincide with similar actions by a number of sites, including Reddit, the link sharing site, and BoingBoing, a technology blog.

The protest is aimed against two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), currently under consideration in the US House of Representatives, and its counterpart in the Senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The laws would increase the government’s power over the Internet and its ability to shut down sites in the name of enforcing copyright law. They have strong support from both Democrats and Republicans

“If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” the Wikimedia foundation, Wikipedia’s parent organization, said in its statement Monday.

The bills would give the US government and major corporations the power to shut down access to web sites on the basis of court orders sought by the office of the Attorney General, which is subordinate to the White House. The court orders would force other companies, including search engines, to halt financial transactions and disable any links to the relevant sites.

In their current forms, the bills would allow sites to be removed from domain name registrars (which connect Internet addresses such as with particular computer servers) and be blocked by Internet service providers.

The laws would allow the government to prosecute the owners of websites that link to any site providing copyrighted material, including search engines. They would also encourage web hosts and payment providers to extra-judicially blacklist websites they suspect of providing copyrighted content.

The bills’ main supporters include the film industry, major television networks including NBC and Viacom, book publishers such as Penguin and McGraw-Hill, and major record labels. They are also supported by a bevy of huge corporations, including 3M and Ford Motor Company.

Rupert Murdoch Slams White House For Criticism of SOPA: here.

Confused by the web blackouts? Corynne McSherry explains why SOPA & PIPA are “dangerous for human rights”: here.

Millions of people signed online petitions Wednesday against two Internet censorship bills currently under consideration by the US Congress. The petitions were driven by appeals from thousands of websites, some of which, including Wikipedia and Reddit, shut down for the day in protest: here.

Attempts by US lawmakers to restrict internet freedom have been postponed after high profile opposition: here.

Turkish anti-Internet censorship protest: here.

Hundreds of people marched through central Warsaw on Tuesday to protest against the government’s plan to sign an international copyright treaty, warning that it would infringe on freedom of expression online: here.

Are US Authorities Increasingly Trying to Limit User Freedom on the Internet in the Name of National Security? Fault Lines, Al Jazeera: “In January 2012, two controversial pieces of legislation were making their way through the US Congress. SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, were meant to crack down on the illegal sharing of digital media. The bills were drafted on request of the content industry, Hollywood studios and major record labels”: here.

9 thoughts on “Internet anti-censorship protest

  1. Since the dawn of broadcasting, our free speech has been dominated – and largely controlled – by the powerful corporations that control public airwaves and the shows they carry.

    Real free speech on the Internet is a profound, existential threat to these media giants and the politicians they own. So they are desperately trying to seize control of the Internet with obscure bills called “SOPA” in the House and “PIPA” in the Senate.

    Tell Congress: Stop the Corporate Takeover of the Internet

    SOPA and PIPA would wreak havoc on the technical infrastructure of the Internet, and threaten thousands of Internet businesses which are truly creating jobs.

    More importantly, these bills would give big corporations and the Attorney General the power to shut down websites large and small that somehow link to copyright violators, whether through their own posts or even visitor comments.

    How on earth can a website – ours included – monitor thousands or millions of links that accumulate over the years? And why should a single link be sufficient to shut down a website or force a bankrupting legal battle with a giant corporation?

    Tell Congress: Stop the Corporate Takeover of the Internet

    No corporation should have that power. And no Attorney General should either – just think of Alberto Gonzales, who abused his vast powers by authorizing warrantless wiretaping and torture, then lied to Congress about it.

    Websites large and small are fighting SOPA/PIPA, including Wikipedia and Google. Some are even going black for a day of protest.

    President Obama opposes “legislation that reduces freedom of expression” and urged Congress to pass a bill that narrowly and carefully targets foreign piracy.

    We’ll reserve judgment on any future “compromise” bill. For now, we must tell Congress loud and clear:

    Stop the Corporate Takeover of the Internet

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik



    All you need to know about SOPA and PIPA are that they are intentionally harmless-sounding acronyms that would further encroach on the informational freedom of the Internet.

    Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote a commentary on the growing transfer of our constitutional rights to the executive branch and the military. One of the last bastions against such a consolidation of power is the openness of ideas, reporting and networking on the Internet.

    It is easy to argue, as do some supporters in Congress, that SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (the Protection IP Act) are necessary to protect copyright. Like the erosion of our civil liberties, however, SOPA and PIPA are also more menacing steps in “policing the Internet.”

    As “CBS News” describes the bills:

    There are already laws that protect copyrighted material, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). But while the DMCA focuses on removing specific, unauthorized content from the Internet, SOPA and PIPA instead target the platform – that is, the site hosting the unauthorized content.

    The bills would give the Justice Department the power to go after foreign web sites willfully committing or facilitating intellectual property theft – “rogue” sites like The Pirate Bay. The government would be able to force US-based companies, like Internet service providers, credit card companies and online advertisers, to cut off ties with those sites.

    What we are seeing is a cumulative legal assault to consolidate the Internet under the control of corporations by empowering the government to intervene in the web without due process. An article from “ColorLines” reposted on Truthout states it more bluntly:

    If you create or consume content on the Internet, under SOPA the government would have the power to pull the plug on your website. If you’re a casual consumer, your favorite websites could be penalized and shut down if they seem to be illegally supporting copyrighted material.

    This is especially important for human rights groups and advocates in communities of color, who could faced increased censorship if the bill is passed. The language of the bill makes it easy for the US Attorney General to go after web sites it simply sees as a threat.

    The Internet has become virtually the sole source of uncensored information and opinion that reaches the entire world – and a technological worldwide network of people, who can instantly communicate with each other about personal and political issues. As such, it poses more than a copyright threat to the status quo.

    SOPA and PIPA are stalking horses for silencing the powerful voice of democracy that is just a click away.

    Mark Karlin,
    Editor BuzzFlash at Truthout


  3. Dear friends,

    Today could be the day we save the free Internet. We’ve flipped the White House and Congress is on the back foot. Now Wikipedia’s blackout has pushed the US web censorship bills to the top of the news. Today we’ve reached the tipping point. Let’s bury the bill for good. Click to sign the petition:

    Sign the petition
    Today could be the day we save the free Internet.

    The US Congress was poised to pass a law allowing officials to censor access to any website around the world. But after we delivered our 1.25 million strong petition to the White House, it came out against the bill and with public pressure at a boiling point even some bill backers are switching sides. Now, the Wikipedia – led blackout protest has rocketed the public campaign to the top of the news.

    We are turning the tide. But the dark forces of censorship are trying to revive the bill right now. Let’s bury it for good today. Click to sign this emergency petition to save the Internet now and if you’ve signed already, to email, call, Facebook, and tweet Congressional and corporate targets. Then send this to everyone:

    The bill would make the US one of the worst Internet censors in the world — joining the ranks of countries like China and Iran. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) would allow the US government to block any of us from accessing sites like YouTube, Google, or Facebook.

    We got the White House to switch sides and now our global campaign and the growing public pressure is forcing Congress to abandon the bill. Last weekend, Senator Cardin, who cosponsored the legislation, announced he will vote against it! Then six prominent Republicans penned a letter requesting that the bill be shelved. Now the lower house vote is reportedly on ice.

    Just days ago we were told it was impossible to stop the corporate censorship cabal, but now this is at a tipping point and amazingly we could win! Let’s stop US censorship today. Sign this emergency petition to save the internet now and forward it to everyone:

    This US legislation could infringe on all of our freedoms. But if we win, we will show that when people unite with one voice from all over the world we can stop the abuse of power anywhere. We have brought this bill back from the brink. Now, if we amplify our voices today, we can put an end to the most powerful Internet censorship threat that the world has ever seen.

    With hope,

    Dalia, Ian, Alice, Ricken, Diego, David, and the Avaaz Team


    White House statement:

    Wikipedia joins web blackout in SOPA protest (BBC):

    American Censorship’s fact sheet on SOPA:

    Everything you need to know about Congress’s online piracy bills in one post (Washington Post):

    SOPA and PIPA sponsors caving in to opposition (Talking Points Memo):

    White House will not support SOPA, PIPA (Huffington Post):

    Controversial online piracy bill ‘shelved’ until consensus is found (The Hill):

    Support the Avaaz Community!


  4. EU commissioner Kroes says US internet law is ‘bad legislation’

    Friday 20 January 2012

    Dutch EU commissioner Neelie Kroes, who is in charge of Europe’s digital agenda, said on Friday a proposed US law to combat internet piracy is ‘bad legislation’.

    ‘My view is that internet regulation must be effective, proportionate and preserve benefits of open net,’ Kroes said in answer to questions using the microblogging service Twitter.

    Later Kroes tweeted: ‘Glad tide is turning on Sopa: don’t need bad legislation when should be safeguarding benefits of open net… Speeding is illegal too: but you don’t put speed bumps on the motorway.’

    Online piracy

    The Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) bill is currently being considered by the House of Representatives.

    According to the BBC, the proposed legislation is designed to tackle online piracy and says anyone found guilty of streaming copyrighted content without permission 10 or more times within six months should face up to five years in jail.

    US-based internet service providers, payment processors and advertisers would be outlawed from doing business with alleged copyright infringers.

    Kroes’ comments follow an FBI-led swoop on the filesharing website, which led to four arrests in New Zealand on Thursday. A Dutch national is among those being held.



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