Dozens of websites today have gone dark in protest of two bills in Congress that are designed to stop copyright infringement on the Web.
The bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, are backed by Hollywood but are anathema to many of the biggest voices on the Web, including Google, Wikipedia and Facebook.
The gist of these two acts is this: the government is seeking the ability to shut down access to foreign sites that it determines are “facilitating the commission” of copyright infringement.
For those who embrace the openness of the Web, this is a scary proposition and a clear act of censorship.
The acts would also allow the government to require search engines to remove entire websites from their results, leaving no trace that they existed.
Wikipedia today blacked out the U.S. version of its website in protest, leaving open only an explainer on the two acts and the Wikipedia articles for SOPA and PIPA.
Google blacked out the logo on its homepage and linked to a website that allows users to sign a petition against the two acts.
Former Sen. Chris Dodd, the CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, called today’s protests “an abuse of power.”
“It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests,” his statement said.
We’re not blacked out today. If we were “joiners” we would be sleeping in tents somewhere. But keeping the internet free is a big deal we should all support.