What an interesting week in the Internet world. We’ve had talks of firewalls, government bills, blackouts, hackers, and copyrights. So, what’s it all about?
Well, this week started off with the whispers of SOPA and PIPA, bills introduced in congress to curb internet piracy of copyrighted materials. They, of course, were backed heavily by a few headliners over the past decade: the RIAA and the MPAA, among cable and media content companies. While their intentions were noble, their methods were not quite straightforward, nor guaranteed freedom of expression on the Internet. One post by one blogger had the possibility of having an entire website blocked overnight.
So, the web “took back the day.” Wednesday, dozens of websites went dark to boycott the legislation and get Internet users to understand what was written in the bills and to get them to contact their representatives. Wikipedia, reddit, and many other sites went completely dark (blocked access to content), while others kept functional services but posted information on their homepages (Google, Mozilla, etc). Well, it worked, and with overwhelming success. Both bills have been slowed while they are reworded and reconsidered, if not killed (since PIPA will be coming to a vote next week).
Then Thursday happened. The FBI took down the MegaUpload family of sites, which did not even operate in the US. They shut down the site and arrested the leaders involved in the sites. So, of course, since the FBI has global reach, why do we need legislation like SOPA and PIPA? Clearly we can arrest those involved, who are not only non-US-citizens, but also lived in New Zealand. Of course, the interesting events of this evening have been the shutdowns of Anonymous, who are acting out against the shutdown of MegaUpload. They have attacked sites and forced the other part of the “internet population” to go dark–the proponents of the bills that were boycotted yesterday–namely, the MPAA, RIAA. As one who sets up systems and builds websites, I’m not surprised that there are security holes in these systems, but I am surprised at how open the sites have been left to vulnerability.
So, maybe the internet will return to normal tomorrow? Let’s hope so.
(and no, don’t hate me for listing fox news as a resource… it’s not usual )