The Internet Fights Back: Groups Announce Day Of Protest Against "Internet Blacklist" Bill
Sites across the web asked to participate in an internet-wide "American Censorship Day"
to protest pending legislation that lets government and corporations block websites
November 9, 2011
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and (508) 474-5248
In response to the pending legislation HR. 3261 (the "Stop Online Piracy Act"), leading civil liberties and tech policy organizations are calling for a internet-wide day of protest against censorship.
Organizers have dubbed the event "American Censorship Day," because it will take place on the day of House hearings on HR. 3261, legislation that will give the US government the sweeping new powers to block Americans' access to websites. More information may be found at http://americancensorship.org/
The groups argue that under the new legislation, America's Internet could careen away from the principles of freedom and openness it embodies -- and towards the likes of China's, with the government and corporations blocking Americans' access to large swaths of the web.
It's easy for sites to participate -- those with a website who want to join American Censorship Day may do so by emailing Fight for the Future at: email@example.com.
Groups participating in American Censorship Day will block their own sites with a splash-page (the below graphic) that resembles official government website seizure notices and will ask their visitors to contact Congress to vote against HR. 3261 and its cousin, S.968 ('The PROTECT IP Act") in the Senate. (Users will be able to close the splash page or click beyond it to access the site's standard homepage.)
HR. 3261 will give the government new powers to block websites that are accused of copyright infringement -- or in the case of YouTube and other social networking sites, if their users are accused of copyright infringement. Copyright holders could file a complaint with the US government over sites that have at least one infringing link posted by users of the site.
"SOPA gives the government and any corporation the power to block entire websites-- that's both wrong and dangerous," said Holmes Wilson, co-founder of Fight for the Future and one of the protest's organizers.
"Worse," said Wilson, "Because SOPA makes businesses liable for everything users post, it will force sites like Twitter and Facebook to censor everyone's posts or risk getting shut down."
"Sopa Makes it so any copyrights holder who didn't like just one webpage with an infringing link could contact payment processors to cut off the site. Payment processors have to respond in 5 days or risk liability down the road. SOPA is a workaround to the due process of the law," said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future.
"This is a dangerous bill. It is an unwarranted expansion of government power to protect one special interest, the Big Media companies, would give Internet Service Providers a way to evade open Internet rules on the basis of 'protecting' copyright and allow advertisers and Internet registrars carte blanche to close down a site for the vaguest of reasons," said Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge.
"This legislation is just another salvo in the big media companies' war on sharing. They want the taxpayers' government to fund their legal assault on the public's freedom. Even worse, they want it done regardless of the collateral damage to perfectly legal uses of the Internet," said Free Software Foundation executive director John Sullivan.
"In essence, Hollywood is tired of those pesky laws, like the First Amendment, fair use, and the DMCA safe harbors, that have helped protect innovation, economic growth, and creativity rather than outmoded business models," said Corynne McSherry, Intellectual Property Director at The Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, the Free Software Foundation, and dozens of other sites are expected to participate.