Wikipedia Bethinks Total Blackout to Oppose SOPA

In spite of all the protest and the online agitation, Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) is making slow advances and will appear before the Judiciary Committee this week. For those who do not know (people outside the US), the Judiciary Committee determines whether a bill is worth presenting to the senate for consideration. SOPA is a draconian bill that affects the whole of the Internet and will put the Internet in direct control of the US government.

SOPA has received fair opposition from many tech-giants and recently,  Kaspersky left the BSA over SOPA. This time, the world’s largest online encyclopedia Wikipedia is going up against SOPA. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has proposed an idea of a total blackout in protest against SOPA. This is inspired from the Wikipedia Italy community, which ran a similar campaign earlier this year, and forced the Italian Government to reconsider its decision.

According to the proposal, Wikipedia will blank out all Wikipedia pages as a “self-censorship”. This will surely get the attention of the Government, as Wikipedia is one of the most visited pages on the Internet.  Jimmy Wales writes  in his Wikipedia page saying,

A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law, which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately. As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of “Stop Online Piracy Act‘ is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track. I may be attending a meeting at the White House on Monday (pending confirmation on a couple of fronts) along with executives from many other top Internet firms, and I thought this would be a good time to take a quick reading of the community feeling on this issue.

The broad-definition of SOPA puts all user-generated content at risk including the ones on social networks, wikis and micro-blogging sites- something that constitutes the lively Internet, as we know it.

(Via:  Torrentfreak)

Disappointed with SOPA, Kaspersky Lab Decides to Withdraw from BSA

In a decisive move, Kaspersky Lab has decided to withdraw from the BSA, over the  insidious Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill. SOPA has already been talked about abundantly, and if you were not following SOPA, you can go through  these earlier posts. SOPA is being pushed aggressively by big brands from the software, music and movie industry, and it is a threat to the freedom of the Internet. Kaspersky Labs is a part of  BSA, which represents a trade group of the software industry, in favor of SOPA.
kaspersky-labs

The  Business Software Alliance  is the voice of the world’s commercial software industry and its hardware partners before governments and in the international marketplace. BSA programs foster technology innovation through education and  policy initiatives that promote copyright protection, cyber security, trade, and e-commerce.

The primary source of income for the BSA is the revenue of its member companies. Although BSA counts software giants like Microsoft, Apple and Adobe as its members, the withdrawal of Kaspersky will come as a big blow to BSA.  Kaspersky is the world’s leading Antivirus vendor with 14 years of experience in this specific niche, and revenue worth over half a billion dollars.

If things do not change by 1st January next year, Kaspersky Lab will no longer be a part of BSA. Kaspersky Lab has taken this move because it believes that SOPA will hurt innovation as well as consumers. The statement made by BSA (on Kaspersky’s withdrawal) reads,

Kaspersky has not participated in drafting the bill, nor participated in the debate on SOPA, and does not support this initiative.

News of this withdrawal was expected to weaken BSA’s stand on SOPA, but they have given a neutral statement saying,

We are very disappointed to learn that Kaspersky Labs may not renew their membership in BSA; especially given we share many of their concerns over SOPA. Kaspersky has been a valued member of BSA over the past two years, and we look forward to working with them again in the future.

Another reason for Kaspersky’s decision of withdrawal from BSA and SOPA seems to be the way this law puts the Internet in control of American censorship. This is something that concerns Eugene Kaspersky  (the CEO of Kaspersky) and many others across the world.

SOPA Gets Global, Faces Opposition from the European Union

The future of the Internet as we know it, is at stake, thanks to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act that have been the talk of the town lately. The SOPA bill is opposed by big brands like Google, Mozilla and Facebook. If it becomes a law, it can potentially take down an entire website for one infringing content. This poses maximum risk to user-generated online content (think social networks, blogs and forums).

People all over the world have expressed their concerns with open letters and  petitions against SOPA. However, this time, SOPA will face its first global challenge- an opposition from the European Union (EU). The EU parliament has warned the US, highlighting “the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.”  This stance puts EU officially in opposition of the SOPA bill.

Even before the EU, SOPA has seen formal opposition. This is an excerpt from  a letter written by around 60 civil and human rights organizations  [link to PDF file] on November 15:

The United States has long been a strong advocate for the protection and promotion
of an open Internet. However, by institutionalizing the use of internet censorship tools to enforce
domestic law in the United States, SOPA creates a paradox that undermines its moral authority to
criticize repressive regimes.

Through SOPA, the United States is attempting to dominate a shared global resource. Building a
nationwide firewall and creating barriers for international website and service operators makes a
powerful statement that the United States is not interested in participating in a global information
infrastructure.

The petition is written beautifully, and it hits the bull’s eye with the exact problem that anyone and everyone has with this bill.
sopa-censorship
SOPA is not a bill that affects the US alone. It affects the entire world. It puts the USA as the guardian of the entire Internet since most of the websites in the world are registered in the US. A recent case where a US registered Spanish website was removed is proof of the fact. Once the bill is passed, events like these will be the order of the day.

The US government is going to unreasonable lengths to protect the interests of a particular sector of business, and is upsetting people all over the world, in this process. It is time they step back and take a holistic view of the situation.

Google, Mozilla and Other Web Giants Express Concern over SOPA

Later today, the US House Judiciary Committee has a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a draconian bill that can potentially kill the internet as we know it. The bill, which has a bipartisan group of sponsors, will enable the censoring of entire websites like YouTube and Facebook even if only a handful number of infringing content is found. It essentially eliminates the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyrights Act) safe harbor provisions, and puts any website that accepts user generated content at significant risk. This includes blogs that accept comments, social networking websites like Facebook, social media websites like YouTube, and social news websites like Reddit. For a lowdown on the danger that SOPA possess to the internet as a whole check out the video embedded below or head over to EFF.org.

Unsurprisingly, SOPA is beginning to create a furore on the internet. The web-giants that stand to lose the most if SOPA becomes a reality, have publicly denounced the bill. Google, Facebook, Mozilla, Yahoo, AOL, eBay, Twitter, and Zynga voiced their concerns in an open letter addressed to the US House Judiciary Committee.

We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign roguewebsites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that has made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.

Several international civil and human rights organizations including the Centre for Internet and Society in India and the Church of Sweden have also expressed their concern in another open letter.
Other significant efforts to organize a grass roots movement are:

Mozilla: The browser maker is attempting to educate its US users about the pitfalls of SOPA by rotating a link to its anti-SOPA campaign page on Firefox’s home page (about:home).

Reddit: Reddit, which relies entirely on user generated content, is one of the companies that will be in jeopardy if the proposed bill is passed. Besides changing its logo, Reddit has put up an announcement to encourage netizens to get involved.

Sendwrite: Sendwrite collected messages from over 3000 netizens and will be mailing them to the concerned representatives for free.

DuckDuckGo: Earlier today, DDG changed its logo and lent support to the Sendwrite campaign.

BoingBoing: The popular blog has changed its logo, in addition to asking readers to write to the Congress.

The SOPA is a disingenuous bill that capitulates to the demands of the entertainment industry. It’s a misguided effort that will do little to stop piracy. Those that wish to steal will always find a way. However, the bill will stifle innovation, and hurt the little guys – startups and work from home ventures. SOPA will allow websites to be blocked even before a case is heard. Even more importantly, how many people will have the time or ability to wrestle it out in front of a judge? SOPA is a draconian law that can devastate the internet, disrupt industries, and ruin the lives of millions across the world. The odds are heavily stacked against the activists. Four out of five witnesses that are set to testify in front of the Judiciary Committee are supporters of the bill. The entertainment industry is determined to muscle this bill through. The only way out is to let the representatives know where you stand.


via American Censorship

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