Deus Ex Machina: SOPA and the Tech Industry

January 19, 2012

 

A mini-opera has played out over the past few days involving the controversial SOPA bill. In many ways this is a fight that is less about free speech and more about political significance. Co-sponsors are taking their names off this bill left and right and why? Because the tech industry fought back.

 

The political context of this bill is what's most fascinating. Though the fight over SOPA continues, the fact that DNS provisions have been removed and that the bill is quickly losing support in reaction to the recent blackout protest and wider public backlash is evidence of the growing power of techies.

 

From large companies like Google, to smaller social media services like Tumblr and Reddit, the industry at large has used its might to protest a public bill. Tumblr put censor bars over all of its content, which when clicked directed users to an anti-SOPA petition. Google did something similar with its logo on Wednesday. Wikipedia and a number of other sites went dark in protest, and several CEO's publicly denounced the bill.

 

For more on why the bill is so controversial check out this mini-debate hosted by KOMU's Sarah Hill via Google+ Hangout.

 

 

What started out as a sleepy protest on the fringe of the web has turned into a giant story. It ballooned into a broader social debate on the nature of the internet and eventually led to a restructuring of the proposed law. Whatever the future holds for the bill, one thing is certain. The scope and language of the bill, and whether or not it dies in favor of OPEN or some other piece of similar legislation, will be the direct result of the tech industry's lobbying efforts.