Previous Next

Senator Ron Wyden plans to filibust a Internet security bill out of the Senate by reading out an online petition.

ALL OVER REDDIT, Twitter, and various blogs, the armies are gearing up to defend themselves against an encroaching enemy: the government.

And their greatest weapon is, ultimately, themselves. As a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, gets ready to go to Congress, the Internet world has voiced anxiety that the legislation will restrict Internet freedom. In particular, there is concern that it will severely limit usage of sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (now, that got your attention, didn’t it!).

In a nutshell, SOP would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to combat online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. The bill was introduced in the House in October by Republican Representative Lamar Smith, from Texas. If passed, it would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to combat online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods, by allowing the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to seek court orders requiring online advertising networks, payment processors and related entities to cease payments to websites and web-based services accused of copyright infringement.

So far, Reddit reports that over 900,000 people have signed an online petition asking Congress not to pass the SOPA bill. Both MoveOn and have lent their support to the petition, showcasing it on their websites. Anti-SOPA people call it the “Internet blacklist bill,” and say that it will allow the music and television industries to shut down the aforementioned sites. It would also make it a crime to stream or display works protected by copyright without permission.

The best part about the anti-SOPA petition is that that the signatures will serve as a filibuster, read out name-by-name by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore), when the bill is presented for the Senate vote this week. This may be the first case where Internet activism is being taken up so directly in a Congressional vote. Wyden’s argument is that the bill would actually make the Internet less secure, because government intervention disrupts, for example, the Domain Name System, and has an overall “effect on the net’s structure.” If the bill passes, he says, we may be headed toward a future where only people who can afford a website will be able to hire a lawyer.

Wyden is also speaking out against a similar act that restricts Internet usage, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders that will require Internet service providers to shut down websites accused of copyright infringement. Well, there goes my personal blog.

With SOPA and PIPA in place, the Internet would quickly cease to be such a wealth of ideas and information. It would lose its democratic nature. Act quickly to sign the petition and let the Senate know that the Web is important to our expression of free speech.

Activism + Politics


About The Author

Rachel Signer

Rachel Signer is a Brooklyn, NY-based freelance journalist, focused on writing about social change and innovative solutions to systemic problems. Prior to becoming a journalist, she earned a master's in sociocultural anthropology at The New School and has done ethnographic research in Latin America and Africa. Her website is

  • Abhijit Gupta

    What happened to the editing at Matador? A couple of lines are simply repeated within the same paragraph; th same senator is mentioned as Byden in the headline caption and as Wyden later on!

    • Hal Amen

      Appreciate the call-out Abhijit. We can’t get it right every time, but knowing we have readers like you to keep us honest is refreshing.
      - Hal

  • joelle91

    Find out how you can earn 35 usd per day from your home simply go here surveymoneymaker dot net

Tell me that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.
“Maybe it’s not racist here,” my husband said. “It’s a different culture."
The pitched battle between protestors and police continues in central Kiev.
Policy and government become Cuba’s history, but it is the artists who tell its story.
Episode 1 of the Modern Gypsies' motorcycle journey through Kenya.
When I’m running a Kickstarter project, it’s pretty much all I can think about.
Here are some of the most powerful images from 2013's biggest riots and protests.
"Humans of Palestine" aims to capture and portray ordinary people living in Palestine.
Could we go live in this village and try and understand the reality at that level?
I knew so little; I am ashamed to admit it now.