On Wednesday the 18th, many people, organizations, websites and companies will stage one-day Internet strike, shutting their sites down in protest of two pieces of legislation currently before the US Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA] and the Protect Intellectual Property Act [PIPA].
Both of these laws would give large media and entertainment companies extraordinary power to censor and block websites without judicial review, and the technical implementations of the law threaten the basic functionality of the web itself.
If you are a US citizen or resident, I urge you to study the law and its impact. The Jan. 1 column by the NY Times' David Carr is a good place to start. Then please contact your congressional delegation. The Electronic Frontier Foundation can connect you immediately with your representatives in Congress.
And then consider contacting the entertainment conglomerates whose lobbying organizations crafted the SOPA and PIPA legislation in the first place. They include Scholastic; Viacom, the parent company of Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.; the Walt Disney Company, parent company of ABC, ESPN, Baby Einstein--and Babble.
I used to work for Disney. I was involved in their earliest forays into technology and the web. I've written for Babble. The company's chief lobbyist was my roommate and one of my best friends in college. We're friends with Viacom's lobbyist, too. I'm not trying to demonize them by criticizing their companies' attempts to get laws enacted that benefit their businesses. But those laws would also do incredible and real damage to the internet and to the culture and freedom of expression embodied in it, without providing any real remedy for these companies' claims of economic harm.
Whatever the results of the Internet blackout, SOPA and PIPA will not disappear tomorrow. Please pay attention, and please help to stop these seriously flawed bills from becoming law.