Web blackout ends: SOPA bleeding, but not dead

Wikipedia back in white
The Internet strike opposing the US anti-piracy bills SOPA/PIPA has ended. The webquake spearheaded by giants like Wikipedia, Reddid and Google led to key sponsors withdrawing their support for the acts. However, they are not dead, activists warn.

Massive opposition to the controversial legislation resulted in Congressmen and Senators swinging against the bills. Up to 18 Senators, of which seven were former co-sponsors, voiced their opposition to PIPA on Wednesday. On the SOPA side, at least two sponsors have dropped out, while Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer blacked out his website in support of the protest.

The protest was timed to coincide with a scheduled hearing in the House of Representatives on SOPA. However amid the online outrage, it was postponed, and the bill will now not be moved to the floor until legislators have reached a consensus.

The conflict, however, is far from being resolved. “SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows,” Wikipedia warns. PIPA is scheduled be put to a vote in the Senate on January 24, while SOPA sponsors plan to push the bill forward in February.

SOPA co-sponsor Lamar Smith dismissed the protest, saying Internet giants are using false allegations to stir up panic in the online community.

“When the opposition is based upon misinformation, I have confidence in the facts and confidence that the facts will ultimately prevail,” Smith said.

Wikipedia reports that 162 million people saw its blackout message and 8 million used its search tool to find their legislative representatives.

“You said no. You shut down Congress’s switchboards. You melted their servers. Your voice was loud and strong. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet,”
the website said in a statement, calling the protest extraordinary.

Google’s “Stop piracy, not liberty” petition scored 4.5 million supporters as of 4:30 pm ET, said Google spokesperson Christine Chen.

All in all at least 75,000 websites participated in the blackout, according to Fight for the Future foundation.

The protest action swept across the world wide web, with SOPA/PIPA-related topics trending throughout Wednesday on Twitter. Those were ranging from the dead-serious “SOPAstrike” to the humorous “factswithoutwikipedia” to the satirical “save porn.”