Don't Mess With the Internet

As many of you know, there has been some proposed legislation that's been all the rage lately. The pair go by the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), both of which must be stopped.

The two proposed bills threaten to neuter the very essence of the Internet, taking away much of the freedom we Netizens enjoy while implementing a system of potential government-imposed censorship. Over the past several months, feelings have been brewing on both sides as the bills make their rounds. Much of the controversy culminated just a few days ago, on Jan. 18, when much of the Internet itself rallied in protest.

Popular sites like Wikipedia went dark altogether in demonstration of what a handicapped Internet could look like, redirecting people to their respective elected representatives to voice opposition. Roughly 162 million would-be Wikipedia-ers viewed the page, with 8 million of them using the site's tool to contact their reps. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) censored its logo in a play on its popular Google Doodles hobby. Social-networking sites Facebook and Twitter were swarmed with anti-SOPA/anti-PIPA posts and tweets.

Source: on Jan. 18.

How did we do? Let's look at some interesting fun facts for the day. Google collected 4.5 million signatures for its anti-SOPA petition. More than 2.4 million SOPA-related tweets were posted on Twitter. A total of 40,000 websites completely blacked themselves out in protest, while another 30,000 sites altered their homepages in other ways.

Well, in a recent turn of events, SOPA has now been withdrawn by its primary sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). Rep. Smith said, "I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy." Critics had been growing their numbers, with Jan. 18's rally significantly helping to turn the tide.


The withdrawal of SOPA followed on the heels of news that the PIPA vote, which was previously set for Tuesday, was postponed indefinitely by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said, "In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act." Sen. Reid still wants to address the underlying piracy that the bills target, while addressing the mounting criticism.

Many representatives didn't even understand how SOPA worked. Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) had said "I'm not a nerd" to simply and eloquently justify his lack of understanding. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) had said "Bring in the nerds!" to help explain some of the technicalities.

The apparent demise of SOPA and PIPA is a welcome relief, as it was becoming a clear threat to the Internet. Major tech names including Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) had voiced discontent, along with other players, such as Mozilla, Facebook, and many others.

Well done, Internet. Mission accomplished.

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Fool contributor Evan Niu holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Microsoft and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2012, at 5:41 PM, xetn wrote:

    From and article by Dr. Gary North, ....

    Let us not be naive. SOPA/PIPA is a payback for to the entertainment industry's generous support of PACs and campaign donations. For a list of who got how much, click here.

    From the "click here"

    With that much money being thrown at the congress, does any one really believe this is over? It will never be over until they pass it.

    One has to wonder why they even need it in light of last week's shut down of by the FBI who "claimed" they were aiding and abetting "pirating". It appears they don't need any "stinking evidence" only appearance is all it took to shut down this company headquarted in Hong Kong, not the US.

  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2012, at 6:17 PM, N797T wrote:

    The SOPA bill was nothing more then a disguised power grab hiding behind protecting the copywrights

    of rich movie makers.

    There is adequate legislation and government power already on the books to nab any thief. The proof is the recent arrest of the group in New Zealand.

    The SOPA laws if passed would eventually be used against us in a perverted interpretation of the law.

    Congress needs to concentrate on our deficit not how to grab more power.

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