The Internet Strikes Back

The coming week is shaping up to feature a hostile fight between tech companies and content producers as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP bills are debated in Congress. Reddit and Wikipedia have announced their intention to go dark for 12 hours on Wednesday to protest the bills, and rumors that Google, Facebook, and Twitter might join in have circulated.

These tech companies are framing the issue as a battle between profits and free speech, an argument that has rallied opposition to the legislation. In a sign of support, 19,000 people on Twitter have changed their profile pictures to an icon saying "Stop SOPA." The White House joined Team Internet on Saturday, stating "While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."  These measures, plus the added White House support, seem like they may be enough to counter heavy lobbying from the entertainment industry. Congress' election-year self-interest may be reason enough to keep SOPA from passing—as one analyst told Financial Times, “There is no way that any Congress member is going to give their opponent ammunition for an election battle for something like SOPA.”

 

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