January 11, 2012

Reddit Announces Planned Blackout on January 18 to Protest SOPA

The Stop Online Piracy Act has united most of the Internet in a way few other issues or entities have been able to do. The World Wide Web is often viewed as the new Wild West and those who reside on it barely ever form a real community. That is one of the reason the coalition that has formed against SOPA have caught some outsiders off guard. 

There have been talks of boycotts of supporters of the bill and there have even been some companies that have pulled their business because of it. Now one of the biggest social sites on the net is planning to make quite a statement.

One Tuesday, Reddit administrators announced that they are planning a blackout of the site as a way to draw attention to their opposition to SOPA and the Senate version of the same bill known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The Reddit blog post announced that on January 18th Reddit will perform a blackout from 8am to 8pm Eastern Standard Time. 

During this 12 hour block, Reddit visitors will see a message about the effect of SOPA and PIPA rather than the usual Reddit content. The site is also expected to provide links to information so that visitors can research the legislation for themselves.

In addition to providing information the site will also host a live stream of the “Internet entrepreneurs and technical experts” who will be testifying at the House hearing for the bill on that day. Reddit has long fought this particular legislation. It was on Reddit that domain hosting site GoDaddy's initial support of the bill was brought to light. Boycotts of GoDaddy were organized and eventually that site relinquished its support.

It does appear that the pushback by the internet community is having an effect on the fates of the legislation. Earlier today, one of the most conservative members of the House, and one long considered a rising star, Paul Ryan spoke out against SOPA. Ryan's office issued a prepared statement which said:

“It should stay that way. While H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, attempts to address a legitimate problem, I believe it creates the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse. I do not support H.R. 3261 in its current form and will oppose the legislation should it come before the full House.”

This particular announcement comes just days after Reddit began a campaign against Ryan after rumors began floating that the Republican was planning to support the legislation.

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Edited by Jennifer Russell