January 18th (#J18) is a day of global blackouts for many websites in protest of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act (& PIPA, the Protect IP Act). Participating sites include Reddit & Wikipedia, and many people are avoiding social networks or taking down their own blogs in solidarity.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo called the protest “foolish”.
That’s just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish,
—Twitter CEO Dick Costolo
The protest goes beyond symbolism when big guns like Wikipedia participate, and in a very real sense it has many appropriately chilling effects:
- Demonstrates what the web would be like without your favourite websites
- Highlights the disruption in communication when decisions to block content are made unilaterally or arbitrarily
- Makes clear that the web is global & that legislation issues in one country affect everyone
- Brings the issue outside of the tech & media world by affecting widespread users in many countries
Do you feel informed enough to protest? Here’s a technical breakdown of the proposed laws, one perspective on why Canadians should care, what the tech-forward White House thinks about the legislation, and why Pirate Bay aren’t worried about their business model.