#opBlackout January 23, 2012

Most of you have probably seen this by now.  Internet giants Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, PayPal and others are contemplating an internet blackout of their services for January 23 to protest proposed SOPA legislation to be voted on January 24.

Companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Yahoo! and Wikipedia are said to be discussing a coordinated blackout of services to demonstrate the potential effect SOPA would have on the Internet, something already being called a “nuclear option” of protesting. The rumors surrounding the potential blackout were only strengthened by Markham Erickson, executive director of trade association NetCoalition, who told FoxNews that “a number of companies have had discussions about [blacking out services]” last week.

According to Erickson, the companies are well aware of how serious an act such a blackout would be:

“This type of thing doesn’t happen because companies typically don’t want to put their users in that position. The difference is that these bills so fundamentally change the way the Internet works. People need to understand the effect this special-interest legislation will have on those who use the Internet.”

The idea of an Internet blackout should seem familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the debate so far. In addition to a blackout already carried out by Mozilla, hacking group Anonymous proposed the same thing a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that sites replace their front pages with a statement protesting SOPA. That suggestion itself came a week after Jimmy Wales had asked Wikipedia users about the possibility of blacking out that site in protest of the bill.

I think they’re serious.  Holy hemiola, we’d have to look stuff up and talk on the phone.  I know it sounds trivial but I think about how I use each one of these services each day and how without them, I would feel disabled.  We would have to relearn how to do things all over again.

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google said:

The bills “give the U.S. government and copyright holders extraordinary powers including the ability to hijack DNS (the Internet’s naming system) and censor search results (and this is even without so much as a proper court trial),” Brin wrote last month on his Google+ page as Congress was considering the measures. “While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don’t believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.”

That CNN article also writes that:

When contacted by CNN, none of those companies would confirm that such a drastic move had ever been considered. By Friday, the advocate whose comments had fueled the speculation appeared to back away from claims that a Web blackout was still likely to occur.

“Internet and technology companies will continue to educate policymakers and other stakeholders on the problems with the (legislation),” Markham Erickson, director of Web trade associationNetCoalition, said in a statement. “An ‘Internet blackout’ would obviously be both drastic and unprecedented.”

Or maybe they’re just not going to tell us what day or hour.  Sort of like Armageddon.

Al Gore appears to oppose SOPA as well.  In a recent speech, “the ex-veep warned that proposals to levy an Internet death penalty against allegedly piratical Web sites “would very probably have the effect of really shutting down the vibrancy of the Internet.”” and  “anything that would serve to threaten the vibrancy and freedom of the Internet in the future, I’m against.”  There was a youtube video of Gore’s remarks on the subject but somewhat ironically, it was deleted from the internet.

I hope they go through with it.  Enough with the copyright smokescreen.  This is a great way for media giants to shut down, well, whatever they want to shut down.  It’s not in their best interests to have people making snide and unpleasant remarks about them.  They’ll be like the whiny billionaires and make our stuff disappear. Oh, they won’t mean to delete your occupy videos and tweets because of alleged copyright violations.  But if you can’t use the internet to file a complaint, you’re kinda stuck, right?

So, black them out for a day and plunge us back to 1992 when no one had ever heard of a browser and we were all just thrilled to death that we could ftp the soda machine in the Computer Science building at CMU to see if the cokes were cold yet.  I hope WordPress, Typepad and other hosting sites follow suit.  But google is going to be a real problem because it affects so many businesses and industries.  I use google to find free scientific software, look up papers and unknown terms, as well as for mail, addresses and phone numbers.  I don’t even know where my phone books are.

This should be good.

And here’s a video from Anonymous on #opBlackout.  It’s pretty heavy on the ominous.

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In other news: Ron Paul gave a speech in NH.  His buzzword appears to be “liberty”.  Has anyone ever sat down with Paul and asked him to explain just what liberty means to him and whether it applies to all American Citizens equally or just 49% of them?  You can hear a lot of cheering in the background.  It sounds like a bunch of guys.  It has to be guys.  I’d just like to point out that, once again, the so-called liberals are willing to sell out their sisters just so they can say they stopped a war.  And let me add the disclaimer that I opposed these stupid wars from the very beginning when many on the left were supporting them.  I have a brother over there, a brother who was stupid enough to be all enthusiastic about us kicking ass in Iraq 8 years ago and over which we had the kind of argument over dinner that leads to siblings referring to their relationsip as “estranged”.  (Betcha he wishes he’d listented to me now) I want the wars to stop sucking blood and money from us as much as Noam Chomsky.  But getting us out of a mess that Bush deliberately chained us to is not going to be easy and I don’t want to get saddled with Ron Paul for four years.  I want an FDR style Democrat in the White House who will not sacrifice women to score political points with the religious and who has enough foreign policy experience to not trigger Pakistan to go off on a hissy fit.  Enough of the female sacrifices and the economic inertia.  Get Obama out of the White House and replace him with someone who will act like they give a f^*&.  And if you can’t think through this problem long enough to abandon Paul and his Dickensian worldview, you’re no progressive.

BTW, I’d just like to note that if this is some kind of reverse psychology strategy to get us to vote for Obama as the lesser evil, it won’t work for me.  I will never vote for Obama because 1.) he’s been a lousy president and responsible for the livelihoods ruined and families made homeless by his finance industry backed policies, 2.) if he did a lousy job for the first four years, he sure as hell won’t stand up to congressional Republicans in the second four and 3.) our right to vote is our one sacrament and he and the DNC violated that right for 18,000,000 of us in 2008.  That is unforgivable for a politician.  So, if you’re a progressive male, and they’re almost always men, and you are playing some political game of chicken with us, be careful because you might just get stuck with a hardass Republican.  This is not the way to win friends and influence people.

Anyway, here’s the speech.  You be the judge.

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17 Responses

  1. I hope they go through with it too. I’m pretty sure (okay, maybe not) live without Google, Facebook, et al for 24 hours. It would be a powerful message and it needs to be sent.

    And Ron Paul. Ugh.

    • Ack. That should read: “I’m pretty sure (okay, maybe not) that I could live . . .

      • I know it would drive us crazy at our house — we do online research constantly. Can’t watch TV without checking IMDB (is that one of the ‘and more’ sites?) ….

        I think it would be like those 2 days the airplanes were grounded. The silence will be stunning.

  2. Wow! What an amazing idea. Maybe the thought alone of the possible disruption (what-all does google own now? Youtube….) could stop SOPA?

  3. I’m realizing that there is now an entire generation of adults-maybe two-who have never looked at microfilm in a library, never typed on a typewriter, never used a courier instead of a fax machine and, hardly, ever open a dictionary.
    Hey, for us oldsters, this might be kind of fun, or not.
    It would be interesting if people of retirement age became the new “tech” gurus.

  4. I actually think Ron Paul would be more likely to beat Obama than Romney. Ron Paul supporters are annoying too. Ugh.
    I could live without internet for 24 hours… I sometimes do this really stupid thing, called reading books.

  5. This is my “field” in the movie biz…copyright infringement is a huge issue and must be addressed. An entire generation seems to think everything ought to be free and that movies and TV just magically appear when in fact, thousands of middle class workers are employed all across the nation. (The make up person and the grip ain’t the 1%) However, this bill seems to go WAY WAY to far.

    I have to wonder about secondary copyright issues as it is what i deal with a lot. Example: I make a youtube of an occupy protester saying something about banks. Free speech. All is good. That person has a Spongebob t-shirt on – have I technically reproduced Spongebob without permission? Can Viacom take down the clip though spongebob it has nothing to do with the clip? What if the protester is standing in front of a BofA and we see the logo…and I have not gotten “permission” to film? The most immediate way to get the clip taken dow is for BoA to alert the city…someone has “filmed” without a permit. Who wins that argument in the short term? Not me, I assure you. Sounds crazy but it’s a question hollywood deals with every day. Lawsuits are brought on less…you can google it…for now…most lawsuits are specious but that’s beside the point. The game is to sue, not to win. To sue is to silence for most people.

    This law gives way to much power away.

    Further I think of how many images are used on blogs I read. and my own. Technically I don’t own the image of Obama I used this week. I should not have…I get that. BUT can my entire site be disappeared? Even the image of the red button above? Who made it? Can this blog be taken down because of it? This kind of law makes me very, very nervous.

    • Yes, it makes me nervous too. Did you read my second post today on science journals? SOPA will open a whole new can of worms there.

  6. Do you really think an FDR dem is going to step up? I don’t think the party would allow it.
    If the wars end and he wants to protect internet freedoms that is a huge plus imo. There isn’t anyone talking seriously about that or OWS which he has also. I am done with identity politics and have been since 2008, as far as I’m concerned protest voting is even more important this election.

    • Would the party allow it? Here’s my point: why aren’t the discontented Democrats putting pressure to replace Obama? Do they think they are powerless? Because to assume that there is no way they can pressure the party to replace Obama is to me the same as giving up and allowing a Republican to take over. And that is one strategy. It’s the one that Ian Welsh has been suggesting. Just get the worst possible Republican in there and when they get exactly what they’ve always wanted, the country will flush them out in anger.
      This is the option you take if you think you are powerless but there is great risk involved that when the evil fucks finally get the power they want, they will turn their attention to making sure the constitution or law is changed so that they can never be pushed from power. Have you seen what happened to Hungary lately? It’s truly a horror show in the making.
      But that’s what Dems are saying. They are saying they are afraid to take their own party on. Then there is always the conditioning that has been an ongoing feature of the propaganda of the left on its own base to poison the reputations of the Clintons. As far as I can see, she is the only candidate who can win broad approval from the electorate while being a significant threat to the financial class. But the prominent vocal lefties keep seeing NAFTA, Iraq War Resolution and welfare reform flash before their eyes whenever they think of Hillary. They are not thinking clearly. What they *should* be thinking of is why it is that the frontrunner for the 2008 D nomination who won 18,000,000 votes and the largest, most Democratic states in the country lost the nomination to a political novice who won dubiously conducted caucuses in sparsely populated states and who raked in massive amounts of money from the investment class. They can not think about that. Maybe it’s because they were so enamored with an african american, cool, creative class candidate and the way that he made them feel that they allowed themselves to participate in letting the ends justify the means. They haven’t done enough self-evaluation. They have to acknowledge that they are part of the problem and resolve to do something about it.
      Voting for Ron Paul is not the answer. Turning on the Democratic party and Occupying party headquarters until they pressure Obama to step down is more like it.

  7. Nobody need fear a Ron Paul presidency. The Reptilian establishment would no more permit that to happen than the Dinocratic establishment would permit a HRC presidency.

  8. Interesting that corporations can strike (which is what OpBlackout amounts to) but humans can’t.

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