Tomorrow is going to be the most boring day in the recent history of the Internet. For 24 hours — on January 18 — several high-profile websites will go dark, to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act.
No one will be able to research potentially fake facts about their favorite celebrities, discover the newest nerdy memes, or upload photos to social media sites.
It’s true, the frightfully unpopular bill is losing legislative steam, but the Internet’s collective rage is still hot, hot, hot.
So who’s shutting down tomorrow?
The list shouldn’t be surprising. Wikipedia will be down tomorrow. So will Reddit, the popular online community responsible for launching the campaign against former SOPA-supporter Go Daddy. Ditto for Boing Boing, the tech news site.
Ben Huh, who runs I Can Has Cheezburger, the veteran meme factory, is also shutting down his network.
Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, delivered his site’s news yesterday via a strangely teenager-ish tweet:
“This is going to be wow. I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!”
Silicon Valley really doesn’t like SOPA or its sister Senate act, the Protect IP Act. A lot of people (myself included) are concerned about the massive amounts of censorship that could result from it.
From ABC News:
PIPA, the Protect IP Act in the Senate, and SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, have been presented as a way to protect movie studios, record labels and others. Supporters range from the Country Music Association to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But the Internet giants say the bills could require your Internet provider to block websites that are involved in digital file sharing. And search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing could be stopped from linking to them — antithetical, they say, to the ideal of an open Internet.
It seems like the ongoing outcry is actually having an effect on Congress. (What? Elected officials actually listen to their constituents?) This weekend, the House of Representatives decided to put SOPA on ice for a bit. PIPA is still very much on the table, but prominent senators and the White House are starting to have second thoughts:
The House bill is on hold for now, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.), who sponsored the Senate version, said he would be in favor of further research on provisions that have raised objections from Internet service providers. The White House over the weekend said it had reservations about the approach the two bills take.
“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” wrote three White House managers, including Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
I’m so ready for this whole unpleasant saga to be over and done with. In any case, prepare some analog entertainment for yourself tomorrow. Because the Internet will be dull as hell.