18 Nov 2011

Reddit, Tumblr and Firefox vs Stop Online Privacy Act

Reddit, Tumblr and Firefox took a stand against a proposed U.S. law by drawing broad black lines on their websites. The proposed law is being described as “censorship” by Internet companies and “piracy protection” by entertainment companies.

The broad black lines made a symbolic stroke as the Internet advocacy organizations declared Wednesday, American Censorship Day. The day marks a time when large web companies dedicate their efforts to encourage users to publically speak out against the Stop Online Piracy Act (Protect IP Act). The bill gives the U.S. Justice Department more authority to pursue websites that host copyright material such as YouTube and Tumblr. Both sites carry user-generated content that easily could have copyright violations.
Tumblr was pretty aggressive in their overall campaign on American Censorship Day. The platform blacked out all user-generated content the moment you first logged on. Once you clicked on the gray lines a message appeared, informing you: “Congress is holding hearings today and will soon pass a bill empowering corporations to censor the Internet unless you tell them no”. You were then given an option to leave your phone number, so you could be connected to your elected representative.
If you left your phone number, a recording of Tumblr CEO David Karp called you back with key points on the issue and then said, “thank you for doing your part to protect the Internet” and then dialed the phone number for your representative.
Other social networks participated in the protest as well. Mozilla and Reddit censored their logos. Users simply clicked through to instructions for getting in touch with their representatives.
Other Internet companies did more traditional methods of protest against censorship – delivering letters and running a full-page ad in the New York Times.
The protest campaigns were being heard on Capitol Hill. A Reddit user posted “I have a friend who works for a congressperson. Her comments: “Our phones have been ringing about this all day. Just got back to my desk and see the news coverage. Whatever group spurred this phone campaign did a good job. BTW – I appreciate you asking folks to be polite. People do usually tend to yell at us.”

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