Blackout Day has seen many websites shutter their storefronts for a day, in protest of the online piracy bills (SOPA and PIPA) doing the rounds of the U.S. Congress. The absence of thousands of sites, such as Boing Boing, Reddit, and not to forget Wikipedia, is certainly being felt across the world. Google is also showing its solidarity to the cause, with an emphatic Google Doodle, and a link to an anti-censorship petition and information page it made.
The ‘Google blackout’ doodle and link, as some are calling it, are only visible on the U.S.-facing Google.com homepage. At the time of writing however, only the “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web” link was visible – maybe the raw symbolism of the Doodle was thought to be a bit too strong to keep for long. The link leads to a petition page, featuring the below infographic, and the words “End Piracy, Not Liberty.”
The two online piracy bills (PIPA in the US Senate, and SOPA in the US House of Representatives) have many things in common, and both give IP owners unprecedentedly broad power to block and persecute what they regard as offending websites. This power, without what critics believe to be the due process, will result in widespread censorship, and infringe on freedom of speech rights. Critics also argue this could potentially create cyber-security problems for providers, and infringe on domain access rights of consumers.
While the immediate consequences of the PIPA and SOPA bills being passed in their current form will be felt mostly in the United States, the biggest fear across the world about the debate remains setting a precedent for other governments. What do you think about the issues at hand? Do let us know in the comments section below.