As i type this there is a flurry of co-ordinated decentralised direct actions by Anonymous on a variety of high profile US websites including the US Department of Justice, Recording Industry of America , Motion Picture Association of America and Universal Music.
In the last few minute the FBI website has intermittenly been taken off line and is working at a minimal rate. These direct actions come in response to the US shutting down Megaupload , a website that many folks where using for cloud computing long before the term got written up in business and economic pages. Its a massive file sharing site with a reported 50 million daily users. Ive posted one of the first video responses from an Anon below outlining – with the compulsory rhetorical music, his reasons
The wider context is of course yesterdays online blackout, which itself was the largest coordinated online political protest against proposed US legislation which seeks to dismantle the architecture of the internet so that one of its most integral features – the ability to share with relative each and the culture of reciprocity – can be stamped out.
The Electronic Freedom Foundation cover the main thrust of the legislation proposal on their site. Bookmark them for sure. But yesterday 18th Jan saw a massive show of resistance to these proposal led by the open source community, and networks like wikipedia
Yesterday, in the largest online protest in Internet history, more than 115,000 websites altered millions of web pages to stand in opposition to SOPA and PIPA, the Internet blacklist bills. Some sites — Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing, Craigslist and others — completely shut down for the day, replacing their sites with material to educate the public about the bill’s dangers. Others, like Google and Mozilla, sent users to a petition or action center to express their concerns to Congress.
While the final results are still being tabulated, EFF alone helped users send over 1,000,000 emails to Congress, and countless more came from other organizations. Web traffic briefly brought down the Senate website. 162 million people visited Wikipedia and eight million looked up their representatives’ phone numbers. Google received over 7 million signatures on their petition. Talking Points Memo has a great round up of more of the staggering numbers. The sum of the protest, as the New York Times declared, sent “an unmistakable message to lawmakers grappling with new media issues: Don’t mess with the Internet.”
And members of Congress were quick to react.
Republican Marco Rubio started the day by announcing his opposition, despite formerly being a co-sponsor. South Carolina Republican and tea party favorite Jim DeMint soon followed, as long did longtime Senator Orrin Hatch. Even ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa “withdrew his support for a bill he helped write.” Senator Rand Paul went further, saying he was committed to filibustering the bill and he will “do everything in [his] power to stop government censorship of the Internet.”
Democratic Senators also voiced their opposition to PIPA. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley thanked constituents for sending him so many emails and said he would vote against the bill. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal also announced he would not support PIPA as written. The popular Senate candidate from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, also said she opposed PIPA and SOPA, stating they “risk chilling the innovation, diversity & free exchange of ideas that define the Internet.” (Her opponent, Scott Brown, also opposed PIPA the day before.)
All told, the Senate gained19 NO votes yesterday, including seven who were previously co-sponsors of the bill, according to Ars Technica. The House followed the same pattern. A few members even blacked out their own websites in solidarity with the protests. After 24 hours of online darkness, the House now has at least 87 opponents of SOPA, and only 27 on-the-record supporters.
January 18th was a truly historic day for Internet activism.
However the celebrations where short lived in what can could be described as a retalitory act against this massive popular expression of discontents. In a joint statement, the Justice Department and FBI called the action against Megaupload “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.”
They plan to charge the owners of Mega upload of causing €500million worth of losses.
In an even broader sweep it seems that there is a longer term battle of enclosure at the back of all this.
Barret Brown chats a bit on this
If you want to get all war games on it this is how the net look right now in part of the US