On Wednesday, January 18, elementaryos.org will be going down for the day. We'll be joining other sites, like Reddit, in protest of the SOPA and PIPA bills currently proposed to the American government.
Imagine there was an epidemic of bank robberies. Bank robberies were becoming so bad that we needed to urgently pass legislation to stop them. Soon a bill was drafted to stop bank robberies at their source: tires. You see, bank robbers need tires for their get away vehicles. So by taking down manufacturers that supply tires to crooks, we can end bank robberies for good. Sound crazy? This is what SOPA and PIPA do to the Internet.
Many sites, like elementary, rely on tools provided by sites like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to reach out to our users and to organize things internally. These are effectively our tire manufacturers. Much like those sites, we host a wealth of user-generated content in our Answers system, Journal comments, and wiki-style guides. Under SOPA and PIPA, everything that we and others rely on could be under attack.
While SOPA and PIPA in their current forms will not literally shut down the Internet, they are opening the door to future trouble that could hugely impact every site and service that uses it. In addition to regulatory hassles across the board, the bill essentially says that American copyright holders can shoot down websites without the standard legal process. These websites would be inaccessible to the entire population of the United States, our biggest user base. Besides the immediate ramifications, other countries' copyright holders and governments are likely to take notice and set into action similar bills if the American version is successful. The precedent that a government body should be able to control what its population sees is a very dangerous one indeed.
If the situation sounds dire, that's because it most definitely is. Fortunately, there's something you can do to help. If you're in the United States, we encourage you to contact your local representative. If you're outside of the United States, you can raise awareness using tools like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. If you have a blog or website, you can put a notice up there as well. Raising awareness and voicing your opinion are the two most important things to do.
Use the link above to write congress, or if you're not in the US, you can actually petition the US state department using that link as well. In addition, there are other tools and ways to protest provided at that site for both American and non-American users.
elementary will join others on the Internet in a protest by blacking out our site for a day. The purpose of this is to raise awareness and to show the possible effects of these proposed bills. We will be blacking out on Wednesday, January 18, 2012. In addition to taking the regular site offline for the day, we'll put up a message that explains what's happening and why. The site will resume normal operations on January 19.
We hope you take this opportunity to raise awareness yourself by showing others the potential effects of SOPA and PIPA. Together we can fight this. Together we can save the Internet.
Portions of this Journal entry were written by Daniel Fore.