Wikipedia Blackout Day

January 18, Internet Blackout Day?

Today, Wednesday January 18, 2012 marks an important day in American legislation. Today, the Web is demonstrating its dynamic power through coordinated resistance against two American bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). So what is at the heart of these two bills—one in the House and the other in the Senate, respectively—that could prompt such determined defiance? The infographic displayed on Google’s ‘take action’ site illustrates that the concern is clearly not over the foreign piracy that the bills seek to shutdown; rather, the slippery slope of censorship it would induce.

“Showing the strategic ability worthy of the best political campaigns, some of the Internet’s most popular sites are about to unleash a splashy weapon—Internet blackout day—to block proposed antipiracy legislation,” the Wall Street Journal (interestingly a News Corp. owned, Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy member) states.

Regardless of position on the bill, the Google graphic that displays support of Web giants such as AOL, Twitter, EBay, Facebook—in addition to each of their individual efforts like Wikipedia’s blackout page—makes us wonder, exactly how much political power do these internet forces and social media savvy companies have?

Only time will tell whether coordinated advocacy for the protection of innovation, economic growth and free speech can effectively block or force a revision of SOPA and PIPA; and—perhaps more importantly—only time will tell what sort of precedent today’s struggle will set.