How SOPA Changed The Internet For A Day

How SOPA Changed The Internet For A Day

Historically speaking, the Internet is a relatively recent piece of technology. It might seem a little silly to put it into the same technological category as the printing press, because it lacks the same richness of history, but without the Internet, the world would undoubtedly be a very different place.

We probably have Al Gore to thank for the term "information superhighway." But today, when I look at the phrase, it almost seems like an inadequate way to describe what the Internet has become. These days, the Internet is where we get our news, communicate with our families, watch our movies, and play our games—not to mention many other activities that probably wouldn't be appropriate for this article.

How SOPA Changed The Internet For A Day

But today, many pillars of the Internet community are using their voice to convey a very different kind of message: resistance. With legislators gearing up to vote on the Stop Internet Piracy Act (if you're still not sure what SOPA is, check out our in-depth article), many websites are withholding the information that we have grown accustom to having at our fingertips.

Google, arguably the biggest name in Internet technology, won't actually be taking offline, but has instead opted to dedicate their iconic homepage to the controversy. For 24 hours, Google's logo will be masked out by the same black marks used to censor classified government documents—an unambiguous message of criticism with palpable autocratic subtext.

"Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and Web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet," said a Google spokeswoman yesterday. "So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our U.S. home page."

Wikipedia has also joined the fray by replacing their entire website with a placeholder that encourages visitors to spend their time learning about the SOPA legislation. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, warned his Twitter followers to schedule their time accordingly: ""Student warning!" the post read. "Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!"

Earlier this week, Wales was able to expand on Wikipedia's position: "This is an extraordinary action for our community to take," Wales said "...we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world."

How SOPA Changed The Internet For A Day

Hundreds, if not thousands, of other companies have taken Wikipedia's lead and are pulling their websites offline. Hopefully inconveniencing the American people will be enough to stimulate them into educating themselves on the issue and taking whatever action then deem personally appropriate.

So, just for today, we may have to live in a world that feels slightly less informative than the one we lived in yesterday. But, hopefully, it will mean that tomorrow's information will have fewer strings attached.

Josh Engen
Contributing Writer
Date: January 18, 2012

*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*

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