The “knowledge blackout” is aimed at protecting the Internet – and the website’s very existence – from online censorship, which many are equating to a complete disregard of due process.
The blackout of one of the world’s most-visited websites is meant to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, two controversial anti-piracy bills currently on the table in the US Congress. Lawmakers argue the bills will protect copyrighted material, but many, including www.demandprogress.org founder and executive director Aaron Swartz, believe it will change the rules for the Internet not just in the United States, but around the world.
“Under this bill, the rules totally change,” Swartz told RT. “It makes everyone who runs a website into a policeman. And if they don’t do their job of making sure nobody on their site uses it for anything that’s even potentially illegal, the entire site could get shut down – without even so much as a trial.”
That may not come as a surprise, given recent programs like “See something, Say something” by the Department of Homeland Security, under which almost any action – including paying cash, buying waterproof matches and having discreet phone conversations in public – can be seen as potential terrorist activity.
And investigative journalist Tony Gosling told RT that existing laws already protect against copyright infringement – and the SOPA and PIPA bills are simply excuses to shut down potential debate.
“This is the latest skirmish in the information war,” Gosling said. “I think we need to use existing laws, which are perfectly adequate. This whole proposal from the industry is really because the Internet is eating into their monopoly on what we see and hear.”