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Internet action against SOPA under discussion within Net Coalition

According to Net Coalition (a coalition of leading global internet and technology companies), a now-removed YouTube video shows Al Gore’s speech at a Career-Builder event. Although not clear whether he was talking about SOPA or PIPA, he is reported to have said that the anti-piracy legislation “would very probably have the effect of really shutting down the vibrancy of the internet,” and that “anything that would serve to threaten the vibrancy and freedom of the internet in the future, I’m against.”

Net Coalition (a coalition of some of the largest and most competitive web companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Amazon, Yahoo! and Wikipedia) is discussing its own options, including a co-ordinated blackout (dubbed the nuclear option). The purpose is to draw people’s attention to what it considers the potential censoring effect of SOPA/PIPA and Net Coalition’s opposition towards it. For now this is just an emerging threat. Nevertheless, people’s increasing reliance on these companies for both business and pleasure would cause severe disruption if it goes ahead.

The Anonymous hacking group had earlier warned of its own campaign to deface the internet in protest. “This is a call for a worldwide internet and physical protest against the powers that be,” it stated on a video message. It will “replace the front page of every website we can with a simple, clear protest page,” it announced in a related statement.

The danger for the anti-SOPA movement, especially from Anonymous, is that such actions could backfire and mobilize public opinion in favor of greater control of the internet. SOPA proponents insist that the laws are not aimed against US websites, but against the foreign websites that provide pirated and copyrighted material outside of the reach of US law enforcement. Oponents fear that it could evolve into a general tool for internet censorship.

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