There had been many anti-Internet attempts implemented and proposed: SOPA, DMCA, PROTECT-IP, COICA, CEST, OPENA, ACTA and more.
PLEASE. Demand Internet Freedom bills in place of such bills. Protect not only current and future Internet businesses, but also the future of children's access to knowledge and ability to share (Some people think the anti-SOPA are just Internet companies).
For example, making it illegal for government or corporations to shut down domains without due process. There's more potential in the SOPA by simply re-wording it to be pro-Internet Freedom.
Bonus: It'll make such Internet Freedom bills a template for pushing Internet Freedom on other countries! Especially UK and Australia.
If they won't stop outlawing/controlling parts of the Internet, then we need to fight back in outlawing anti-Internet attempts.
The war against the Internet will continue after SOPA.
Edit: I sent a message to reddit admins again (several attempts already in past). If you know any of the reddit admins, please pass on this Internet Freedom message quickly!
2nd Edit: hueypriest acknowledges the message: "We are well aware that the fight will continue long after SOPA/PIPA, and that this is just the first battle."
making it illegal for government or corporations to shut down domains without due process
I think that going down the path of having the legislative branch pass laws to protect rights that are already clearly protected by the constitution is a really bad idea. For example, having congress protect the right of peaceful assembly seems preposterous. Doing so would imply that encroaching on the right of peaceful assembly is even an option, which, in a civilized democratic society, it isn't. The internet should be no different.
As much as technies like to complain about our representatives, the reality is that they do a reasonably good job representing the overwhelming majority of the population. Most people who have families to take care of don't know or care for SOPA, and would probably support curbing piracy, hate sites, and child pornography via DNS blackouts (if they knew what DNS meant). Like it or not, they are the majority of the electorate.
The proper way to ensure that the internet remains free and open is to educate the populace. Failing that, we need to put pressure on congress on bill-by-bill basis. Failing that, it's the Supreme Court's job to declare any encroachment on our rights as unconstitutional.
We don't need to pass laws to protect rights that are already protected because it legitimizes encroachment on our rights in general and blurs the lines between different branches of government in ways they weren't meant to blurred. It's a slippery slope and a really bad road to go on.
I can't help but think that the only way to avoid this sort of meddling is to make it technically impossible.
To some extent, this is on us: the Internet, at its core, is just a bunch of computers that are all physically connected, with protocols for sending messages to each other. We should have, from the outset, made sure that as long as computers have a physical connection, sending data between them in a standardized way was solid and unbreakable, even with malicious actors. We should have been considering how to design this system so that even if a government that controls a large (say up to 50%) subset of the nodes tries, communications between certain nodes could never be blocked without degrading communications between all blocks and losing the entire functionality. Then we'd be justified in saying that bills like this would destroy the Internet, and nobody would ever even try to pass them.
Unfortunately, as thing stand, DNS is a too-easy weak-point in the infrastructure, so unsurprisingly, repressive governments target it as a way of imposing their will on the Internet. With a single point of failure, are we really surprised that governments will pick it out and exploit it? We had many other architectural options, did we perhaps choose one that was just too trusting when put up against the shitty world that we live in?
Maybe I'm just naive, perhaps I don't understand the details and subtleties and just assume that a technical solution would be easier to come up with than it really is; I'm not a crypto or networks expert, so maybe the current situation is the only viable one. I'm sure any better solution would not be simple, and I'm sure it would require a lot of research. But in any case, it doesn't exist, so we're pretty much screwed for the moment.
Issues like this make me think that dark-net plans are extremely useful, but happening far too late to matter in the real world, where everyone already follows protocols that allow for network-destroying interventions...
When the Internet was started, the researchers had no concept of the Internet growing to become a world-wide phenomenon where bad actors wold also exist on the network. Everyone involved was basically from an academic/research background and the funding was coming from DARPA. Even now, could you imagine researchers at say Stanford and Berkeley devising research collaboration methods that assume that either organization's management/governance will interfere with or act maliciously against that collaboration effort?
Even now, could you imagine researchers at say Stanford and Berkeley devising research collaboration methods that assume that either organization's management/governance will interfere with or act maliciously against that collaboration effort?
Yes, I could.
I'm not saying that a technological approach to this problem is best. (I prefer a political response.)
But I believe that current knowledge of computer security is sufficiently advanced that a more secure internet could be invented.
To your point about increased government regulation; I had that discussion with someone before regarding keeping government out of Internet. I put it simply as: "If they won't stop outlawing/controlling parts of the Internet, then we need to fight back in outlawing anti-Internet attempts."
Of course, we can educate the populace. That's why I'm trying to educate the population that there are anti-Internet attempts that affect their Internet usage. That they should demand protection from anti-Internet attempts. :D
As for constitutional, the EFF and anti-SOPA groups say it violates 1st amendment. But the anti-Internet supporters counter in it's perfectly legal . I don't know about you, but I'm not going to let it pass and wait around for the supreme courts to interpret it as unconstitutional.
Until the populace understands the importance of Internet (beyond thinking it's just Facebook, etc), Internet Freedom bills will go a long way in stopping anti-Internet attempts by not only researching and discussing Internet Freedom but also preventing anti-Internet attempts.
For the anti-Internet attempts like bills, there's a lot of Door In Face  that's allowing compromises leading to more Internet control. Look at the history of the anti-Internet attempts. They are relentless, demanding a mile, and getting an inch every time as 'compromise'.
It should be the opposite for Internet Freedom bill attempts, otherwise we're continuing to slip down the anti-Internet road.
Edit: I want to also mention that for whatever reason, USA government seems to be cracking down on Internet Freedom in the world (Ref: Spain). Internet Freedom advocates in government should counter this subterfuge.
I should add that much of the Bill of Rights was protested because it was considered redundant, since everything the govermoment is allowed to do is already listed, and everything else they're not allowed to do. Of course, we've seen that even with that redundancy it's not enough.
I agree that it shouldn't be necessary to pass laws affirming the Constitution, but who else is going to do it? It's up to Executive branch to enforce laws, and they're not willing. The Judicial branch can declare things unconstitutional, but they have no power to enforce. If the Legislative branch is the only one willing to at least try, they might as well. Of course, we know they're also unwilling.
There's also an Occupy Congress movement on January 17th, the first day Congress goes back to work, so maybe this will help scare the SOPA supporters a little, too. A strong showing for Occupy Congress and massive Internet blackouts, could send a clear message to Congress and politicians taking money to pass laws, that this is not going to fly anymore.
It seems like every time there is some message about protesting SOPA there is a comment from you about an Internet Freedom bill. I agree with you overall but I don't know if the constant repetition is helping.
If he believes in his ideas, then constant repetition is exactly the way to go. It's all a number game - have to get into as many heads as possible. This was the first time I've seen his message, and it's definitely one I agree with.
I know "me too" messages are against guidelines, but me too.
I think it is important to fight back using the same weapons as your aggressor, so anti-SOPA legislation seems like a good tactic. In a perfect world it would not be necessary, but this is an imperfect world. If someone is repeatadly beating you with a stick, ignoring your protests, after a while you have to consider picking up a stick and hitting them back.
* with the hiding of comment votes, how is one able to publically express the support of an opinion? I guess this is a special case where if someone is telling another to quieten down, it is ok to chime in...
Repetition is generally hated in the "DRY" techie world. After all, why repeat yourself when you can re-use. But the brain doesn't quite work that way. The message gets stronger when repeated. Of course, that can mean your internal annoyed sceptic begins to resist it (as with commericals), but at least that's a response, more than simply ignoring it.
or the real issue: how can we convince people that freedom is more important than defence, so that bullshit arguments like "interfering with the ability to fight terrorism" can't be used in the future to restrict basic rights like freedom of speech?
It should be a Constitutional Amendment, but I'll take a couple of Internet Freedom bills until then. The current administration would most likely veto them, though, even if we get Congress to pass them, and so would most of the current Republican candidates.
I agree. Being reactionary usually means you'll play second violin. Anti-SOPA, anti-PIPA, etc. Always the underdog in the narrative. It is useful to push back, but they will keep pushing this through our throat, and will advance inch by inch.
If we are to ever progress beyond 20th century retoric, "the internet" needs to grab the narrative, rewire culture, and make laws to its own advantage. If it is really such a powerful social force (as I believe it is) this should be possible.
My first though after reading your comment was that there's probably a very small number of people that read HN and support SOPA. After thinking about it a little bit more I realize that my dismissive attitude was inappropriate.
When Reddit goes down there are going to be news stories about it and these will raise awareness about the issue to people who aren't Reddit users. If HN or any other sites join in then they will most likely be mentioned in these articles and to the casual reader this will only make the message stronger even if they aren't familiar with the actual sites. In addition, HN has a huge audience of people who are in a position to blackout their own sites. If HN were to join in then I think that this could be influential in making these people consider more seriously whether they should follow suit which will only further the reach of these actions. At the very least, HN being down could serve as a good reminder that opposing SOPA isn't enough by itself and that if we really care about this then we should be contacting representatives or doing something else that could have even a small impact.
For these reasons, I would also be in favor of HN joining in support.
I think it's also easier for the "opposed-but-lethargic" crowd to get involved when they lose their favorite toy. I don't think there are likely to be a lot of SOPA supporters on HN, but it might help spur people to action.
The point of the blackouts should be to make people uncomfortable and inconvenienced enough that it sticks. It's not just to educate, it's to motivate.
I doubt I'm the only one to suppose that people who do not understand SOPA also have an outdated or narrow definition of "hacker". Both of those are unfortunate, but if we're being constructive about one (through our combined voices), we may as well take a moment to be constructive about the other - perhaps calling HN "Y Combinator News Aggregator, popularly referred to as 'Hacker News'".
> My god.. the productive output of Silicon Valley is going to triple on the 18th!
Personally I'll be blacking out my productivity as a show of solidarity.
All joking aside, I actually think it would be difficult to maintain the rhythm, if you know what I mean, without my favorite social news site on one monitor. On the other hand, it might give the browser's refresh button a much needed break...
Honestly, I don't see the point. The effectiveness in the blackout is going to lie in its ability to inform users who might not be aware of the threat SOPA poses: I think the number of regular perusers of HN who are unaware of SOPA is middling at best, which might not be true of Reddit, Wikipedia, or some of the bigger sites considering the blackout.
That being said, anything helps, and this is the sort of issue where action trumps inaction.
There are still going to be very few Redditors who are not aware of SOPA and its implications, even if a larger percentage than HN.
I started typing up a post similar to yours until I stopped to think about it. I think that there is more to this than just awareness. Reddit going down for a day, not only makes those few aware who were not already, but it stands to motivate those that were aware and had not yet taken action. Another big point for me is that Reddit taking the first step may motivate other web companies to follow suit. In that respect, I definitely support HN participating.
Seeing it is very different to knowing about it, and I'm not just talking about in-depth knowledge.
Nobody clicks every link, there are plenty of things I see on the front page of sub-reddits, or HN, that I read the title and don't click. So, how many users have seen SOPA stories and thought "that doesn't interest me"? My guess is quite a lot.
I'd guess at least half the startups run by HN users would/could be affected if not roll the dice destroyed by SOPA - basically anyone with freeform user-created content shared with others would be
I would be fully in favor of an HN blackout and call to action. The tech industry is finally starting to have enough de-facto power to have short-notice, mass-action grassroots political sway, and ought to begin practicing the art as soon as possible - the damage and danger to industries in the old economy is growing exponentially, in hand with startups' user bases
They're starting in earnest to fight for their survival. Are you planning to fight back?
One benefit of keeping HN online is that it provides a place to have a discussion of the effects of other sites' blackouts.
In many ways blacking out HN is preaching to the choir. On the one hand it's a symbolic gesture which won't do much to raise awareness among HN visitors; on the other hand, such a move adds one more name to the list of protesting sites and has value in that respect.
Blacking out Google is one thing and something that I hope happens if all else fails. Now I'm sure blacking out Reddit will at least get a certain demographic in the U.S. to notice, but isn't this the same demographic that is already working to remove certain members of Congress for their support of SOPA? So my question: what kind of impact will this have? Certainly there won't be too many Congress members worked up over a blacked out Reddit...
Blocking out Google would have more impact, because it affects a site nearly every internet user uses every day. Still, blocking Reddit is an excellent demonstration of a site which will directly be affected by SOPA (and the impossibilitiy of policing user-uploaded content for copyright violations) and news outlets and the media would have at least one significant example to point to of what the SOPA opposition is talking about. Better than Reddit do nothing, certainly, even if it's only a PR move.
Blacking out completely is too extreme. I would say a better approach is to put a full-page interstitial ad up over all of these sites with phone numbers to call, and a 30 second timer before you can use the service - be it Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, HN, all the things. Let users get to the service but only after 30 seconds of looking at the phone numbers of US representatives offices, and a message that if SOPA passes, these sites will be gone for good.
That would the most plausible approach Google, Facebook, Twitter and other major sites could take if they were to black out. However, such blackout were to happen, should be restricted to US only.
And, Google probably would not want to black out Google Apps. I guess that would infuriate a lot of paying customers.
Exactly, i thought the same thing. That would be the the ideal way of making this work. Because you let your users know about what's going on (if it were google, a number of them would search about sopa to learn more), and let them also coordinate their actions.
But (nearly) everyone who reads reddit is already aware of the problem and many have already complained. The point in turning off the big sites is to get a lot of angry constituents from apparently "mainstream" demographics (i.e., not "a bunch of nerds") calling and freaking out because they can't get to Facebook.
I know, for instance, that my mom would be seriously flipping out if Facebook were blacked out for her. If they asked her to make a call to get through, she would call immediately and yell at the people for making Facebook not work. This would happen millions upon millions of times over, which is why people want major sites like Facebook to participate.
I find it both scary and intriguing that a small handful of companies could have such a significant effect on the legislative process merely by presenting something in a negative light to their users, and requiring some action to affirm that viewpoint before allowing the user to access the service.
Taking Facebook down completely seems extremely counter-productive for everyone. Just a button that says "I called, let me through" should be good enough, there would be plenty of people who have an aversion to clicking through that without actually placing the call, and then Facebook (and its dependents, Zynga et al) doesn't lose 12-24 solid hours of ad revenue.
I strongly agree that if Google "blacks out" anything, they should restrict it to search only. Email and other essential services must remain accessible.
I think the major aim is to attract the attention of employees at other more mainstream websites into pressing for similar action elsewhere. Facebook and Google are the two obvious ones, if either of those decides to join in then the majority of the US will hear of the bill (through, contact with the website, talk among peers and news coverage). Reddit on its own however, will have little affect on the general populous.
Google is a publicly traded company with millions of daily users. Wouldn't they experience some repercussions if they were to take part in a black out? I doubt a company in their position would do something like that.
Fiduciary duty to shareholders. A blackout preventing searches (rather than an informative message that users can easily dismiss) would impact revenue and might result in a shareholder lawsuit. Not to mention the impact to AdSense [edit: I meant to say AdWords] advertisers who might see that as an SLA violation.
Does AdSense have an SLA? In any case, I'd be shocked if the contracts weren't in terms of number of searches. If 0 searches are done, there will be 0 AdSense "hits".
The "fiduciary duty" to shareholders seems pretty far fetched and could be argued the other way as well. Enforcing SOPA will be a heavy financial burden and negatively impact future performance, therefore not using every means necessary to block SOPA is also a breach of "fiduciary duty".
I completely agree that it could go both ways. However, anybody can sue for anything these days. While opposing SOPA is the responsible choice, I can see a potential shareholder suit claiming that opposing SOPA could be done without taking drastic measures (ie: a blackout rather than a dismissible message) that immediately impact revenue.
Reddit also has shareholders, even though it is a private company. Fiduciary duty obligations apply to Reddit management as well. IMO, management at these companies would have a very strong argument that opposing SOPA in dramatic fashion would be more likely to increase shareholder value in the long run.
Google blacking out risks appearing as a threat, which would be viewed very poorly by many people. It would be similar to a major oil company deciding to stop drilling for oil unless they got some subsidies passed.
I'm sure a few million of reddit's 20 million UU's skip over the sopa stuff or they only browse one subreddit. They released some stats where less than 10% of the websites users even have an account and only 1% submit stuff. So Blocking out reddit will do alot.
It's effective because it gets the word out more than any other action could. Period. The problem is most people don't even realize SOPA's threatening the internet right now.
And anyone who's heard of SOPA already except a industry/congressman is probably against SOPA, and anyone who hasn't heard of SOPA aside from the Google blackout would be unlikely to hear the suspect Google motive news.
Con: People who are already Pro-SOPA have one little complaint to add to their little list
Pro: The entire internet population becomes aware of SOPA and realizes that sh*t is real.
I didn't vote you down, but here's your counter argument.
1. Suggesting that blacking out google would not be effective is naive. It would be very effective.
2. While it would be straightforward for to make an argument that mp3.com, grooveshark, and piratebay.org have suspect motives - I don't think the majority of people think "Piracy" when they think "Google" - they think "Search."
No, the purpose of a coordinated worldwide blackout is to make it clear that this is a transnational problem. It is not 'my specific problem'. US outsiders need to make clear that they are watching you & will not tolerate this kind of shit in their home-countries.
I don't want to make this, but I'd add it to my sites if it was designed well. :)
Even if you agree with the underlying goal of SOPA (protecting rights holders), the bill is horribly written and grants far too much power to copyright holders without any transparency. So in what sense are you on the fence? You agree with the underlying goal, but not the execution?
It would seem so. But I suspect, given the obnoxiousness of the bill, its proponents and its consequences, you're more likely the only HN participant who hasn't read much about SOPA and is willing to say so out loud.
Well that's kind of the point, isn't it? If SOPA passes then your access to Reddit will never be guaranteed. It's damn inconvenient, but it's small fry compared to the possible inconvenience in the future.
While putting up an interstitial to warn about SOPA/PIPA and get people to call their representatives would be almost as effective in its short term impact on those 2 bills, I think completely blacking out is a much more effective long term strategy.
The chance that politicians would try something like SOPA/PIPA anytime soon, if all major sites go dark in that day, is much smaller. Showing an interstitial could be a form of protest against anything. Going dark is clearly a form of protest against censorship. And I don't think any politician will want to be associated with that in the future.
I think it should be done to convince USA policymakers to wake up. Not all countries copy USA in all laws (cf. EU employment rights), so this "USA-only blackout" might convince USA policymakers that SOPA will make the USA unattractive
Wouldn't it be better if instead of going dark, every single page displays a full window message, explaing the situation about SOPA, showing the picture, name, phone number of the us representative for the area of the visitor (using geoip). And letting the user close that message after a certain amount of time.
That way, the users will still be able to coordinate their actions. If not, you are giving SOPA supporters a big help, by generating chaos between the ones who opposes the bill.
Really need Facebook/Twitter to do the same to strike a nerve with a large demographic. Google would definitely bring attention to the cause, but the ability to broadcast oneself / status on a personal level needs to be hindered to have a meaningful impact. I almost might want Google to stay online and display information about SOPA on the homepage. a la "Why is the internet blacked out today?" .. consumption/direction to information is their strength.
Sites should only go completely dark for those users who appear to be geographically inside the district of SOPA-supporting legislators. "Your legislator wants an censorship-without-trial kill-switch for internet sites, so we're on strike against your district today."
Oh, you show an interstitial to everyone. It's just milder for those in 'friendly' districts, medium-annoying when the legislator is uncommitted, and draconian when the legislator is pro-SOPA. And because of the large size of Senatorial districts (states) and how many Senators are PIPA supporters, plenty of people get the near-total blackout.
The people who get, 'attaboys' for having better local legislators can still be directed to the nearest (or most vulnerable) problem legislators, or fundraising campaigns.
I suspect the 'sting' of being in a bad district could motivate more emotion and action than just a blanket blackout. When people call their friends/relatives in other districts and find who does and doesn't have access, there could be more buzz.
A worldwide blackout just annoys people overseas with silly American parochialism. A nationwide blackout educates, somewhat, but also could be seen as a sort of 'snow day', "ah, well, let's wait it out."
Differential punishment serves to both agitate the relevant voters more – "why are we unable to access reddit when Suzy in Oregon can?" – and focus the emotion against specific actionable targets.
That's assuming the only reason for the blackout is to pressure users into calling their legislator. Blacking out the whole site worldwide is far more effective as a means of making a statement, and as a means of getting media attention.
Because it's time to deploy a weapon of last resort. Big Content long ago declared Total War on the internet. Their bungling made this distasteful but initially limited its scope to courtrooms and extortionate settlements. But they've discovered their own nuke. They're going to do their best to drop it.
Is blacking out HN really necessary? Is there anyone here that doesn't know about SOPA/PIPA and the threat they represent?(I would ask the same about reddit but since I don't read the site I don't know if they have a broader demo)
I suppose the whole point in doing the blackout would be to draw attention to people who haven't realized there is problem.
True, but the direct legal action wouldn't threaten Google and other businesses much (Google does run DNS servers, but it's not their main gig) so moving outside the country would accomplish very little from a technical standpoint.
Example: A few injuctions from major studios against google for not removing results or banning adsense accounts or even blocking google checkout accounts on time could result in major losses for the company. If they were based outside the US, they'd be protected.
I really don't understand the point of this on reddit. EVERYONE on reddit has been hearing about SOPA continually for the last month. You don't raise awareness of an issue by putting it in front of people who already know about it.
Assuming this spreads, I believe a potential ramification of major sites blacking out would be new laws that would attempt to make such black outs illegal.
It could be seen as equivalent to strikes in essential service industries like transportation. Such strikes are semi-regulated and governments can and have ordered strikers back on the job to maintain public order. I see this possibility as a potentially major unintended consequence of putting Facebook "on strike".
Facebook is in no way as vital to public order as the transportation system. Further, there's no way the government can force a private corporation to do anything, short of nationalizing it (and good luck there).
Not to crush your idea, but January 18 is when Alexis “kn0thing” Ohanian will be testifying about SOPA in front of Congress. I imagine if the testifying were to happen on January 19th the blackout would be then as well.