In a push to stop the PIPA and SOPA bills, major internet-based businesses held ‘Black Wednesday’. Internet companies, such as Wikipedia, Google, Wired, Reddit and more, blacked-out content or parts of their site to protest the controversial bills. The bills are aimed at internet piracy and copyright infringement, are also in danger of putting the power of the web, directly in the hands of U.S. government officials.
The bills also had a lot of possible side implications that were very close to mass censorship. This proposed censorship was reminiscent of George Orwell’s novel 1984. The two proposed bills were getting flack, for possibly looking out for the interests of the entertainment industry, rather than allowing a free internet for all citizens. The internet then decided to strike back.
Although Facebook didn’t blackout materials for Black Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook Founder) came out against SOPA and PIPA, calling the legislature “poorly-thought out laws that get in the way of the internet’s development.”
“The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet’s development,” Zuckerberg stated on Facebook. “Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet.”
The whole opposition to the bills had the desired effect on the U.S. politicians involved. SOPA co-sponsor Arizona Representative Ben Quayle pulled his name Tuesday in lieu of the mass protest. Late Wednesday, PIPA co-sponsor Florida Senator Marco Rubio pulled his name from the bill, which he announced in a Facebook post, titled “A Better Way to Fight the Online Theft of American Ideas and Jobs”. He argues Congress should avoid rushing to pass the bill that could have unintended consequences.
“As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs…However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.”
He also encouraged PIPA co-sponsor Nevada Sentor Harry Reid to follow his lead and ditch the bill in order to “take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.”
This demonstrates that Social Media is a force to be reckoned with, after all. Many have surmised the real purpose of SOPA and PIPA was a power grab by the U.S. government to gain more control over the media. It is viewed as a proverbial sort of wolf in sheep’s clothing legislation. It looks like the people have gained some ground today. However, the empire will still live to fight another day.