Wikipedia and Craigslist (and thousands of other websites) blackout in protest of SOPA
Wikipedia is on strike today, to protest SOPA and other proposed legislation that would censor the Internet in order to attempt to prevent piracy. The ways in which lawmakers (frequently pushed by the movie and music industry) are attempting to cripple the Internet are staggering, as I mentioned on Monday – Douglass Rushkoff even argues that the Internet is ALREADY so encumbered by censorship, surveillance and commercialism that we need to build a new, truly p2p alternative.
The Wikipedia protest is beautifully conceived. One of the most popular websites in the world, and such a hub of information for people who are experts and ignorant of these political issues. This is certainly going to let a lot of people know what’s going on. I loved that when I tried to get to an article I could see the text I wanted, for just a second, before this black screen took over my browser. There is one Wikipedia page still accessible – the page about the SOPA initiative.
Craigslist (the US versions) and Google are also protesting. And thousands of other websites, and people on Twitter and Facebook and everywhere are discussing it.
Google’s not doing a blackout – wouldn’t that be something! But there’s a line of text under the search box today, linking to a very clear and simple page explaining why SOPA and similar legislation would be a bad idea.
The US Craigslist is completely blacked out, with less elegant but more informative text about SOPA than on the Wikipedia site, and a link to “MORE INFO & EASY ACTION ITEMS“. Always a good idea to provide easy ways for people to act.
Americancensorship.org has the best list of actual things you can do I’ve seen so far – including a code snippet you can use to put a censorship band across your website for the day, like the one I’ve installed above. They also suggest non-US citizens write to the US State Department: “The US state department constantly speaks out against internet censorship in other countries. Pressure them to speak out against America’s new domestic censorship system.”
Although this is US legislation, it affects us worldwide, not least because things like this pave the way for Europe and other countries to accept greater censorship online.