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Angry geeks fire back at SOPA supporters

Published time: December 23, 2011 18:56
Edited time: December 24, 2011 00:01
SOPA will censors websites across the Web.

SOPA will censors websites across the Web.

Hell hath no fury like a computer nerd scorned. Activists against a legislation that will severely censor the Web are waging a war with supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act and their strength is quickly swelling in numbers.

Both Congress and the Internet have been abuzz lately with the Stop Only Piracy Act, or SOPA, a bill which will allow the US government to erect a firewall across the Web and largely limit what websites are accessible to American people. While the debates on Capitol Hill might be bit boring and are largely sponsored by the millions of lobbying dollars sent in by SOPA supporters, the Internet is offering a no-holds-barred battleground to make sure that the bill doesn’t make it to legislation.

Advocates against SOPA are tackling the act but taking it where they know best: the World Wide Web.

Lists are circulating around the Internet advertising the list of organizations supporting the SOPA legislation, allowing advocates for an open Internet to know who the bad guy is in this battle for free speech and online access. With the recent approval of the National Defense Authorization Act, hackers quickly dived deep into the Internet to begin prying out personal details from supporters of the law that allows the US government to indefinitely detain and torture Americans without charge. But while a blow to constitutional rights is one thing, taking away the Internet is a whole new can of worms.

As threats of SOPA being passed increasing day by day, activists against the act have unleashed largely on its supporters already.

The website Reddit.com is helping organize a campaign to crush the code by encouraging online entrepreneurs to move their personal websites off of GoDaddy.com, the largest domain registrar on the Web who also happens to be a supporter of SOPA. On Thursday this week, one user asked the Reddit audience, “I'm suggesting Dec 29th as move your domain away from GoDaddy day because of their support of SOPA. Who's with me?” In less than a day, the post received early 3,000 comments and the support from other activists across the Web.

One person who has signed on for the the down-with-GoDaddy campaign is Ben Huh, the Internet guru that helped bring the “I Can Has Cheezburger” meme to the mainstream. He tweeted on Thursday that he will move all 1,000 domains owned by his company, Cheezburger, off of GoDaddy lest the registrar revokes their support.

“SOPA is cancer to the Free Web,” Huh writes on Twitter.

Go Daddy seemed to think otherwise, however, and originally said that SOPA will only help the Web. “We are grateful that this Committee agrees that it’s time for increased enforcement action because U.S. businesses are hurting, and those of us in the Internet ecosystem are in a unique position to help,” the company told Congress in an official statement last month.

Other domain name registrars don’t agree though and are offering discounted rates for people that switch providers, encouraging them to make the move by using coupon codes such as “NODADDY,” “BYEBYEGD” and “NOSOPA.”

As the heat was added to the fire, GoDaddy cracked on Friday, finally revoking support for SOPA."In changing its position, Go Daddy remains steadfast in its promise to support security and stability of the Internet," the registrar writes on Friday.The company's general counsel, Christine Jones, writes that "Go Daddy has always fought to preserve the intellectual property rights of third parties, and will continue to do so in the future," and the company has removed blog postings on their site of SOPA legislation that it had originally been in favor of.

As RT reported earlier this week, others have identified ways to bypass some of the Internet filtering that could be created if SOPA is passed. Others have simply offered up messages online that they hope to go viral. Singer Leah Kauffman’s “Firewall (Don't Let Our Government Ruin The Internets)” video has exploded online and a campaign on Twitter to crush SOPA has caused a tremendous buzz as well. But if you don’t think the legislation will matter all that much to you, look no further than the online porno industry.

YouPorn, one of the top-100 most visited websites in the world, has published a post to their site called “Stop US Gov’t From Censoring Your Internet; Stop S.O.P.A!” In it, the administrators of the popular porn site warn their immense audience, “If passed, SOPA will destroy the Internet as we know it.”

“Not only will the bill hamper if not utterly destroy countless technological innovations, it could spell the end of online competition, and mean the beginning of massive online monopolies run by the biggest corporations in the entertainment industry,” adds a post on the YouPorn blog. “Not to mention the fact that any pre-existing site (like YouPorn) could be blocked from all of North America by said Government or Corporations at the drop of a hat, with or without merit.”

“What it really comes down to is: Are you willing to put absolute control of the Internet into the hands of the US Government and a select few entertainment industry corporations? I know I’m not, YouPorn sure as hell isn’t, the entire PornHub Network isn’t, and the hundreds of thousands of companies and people that have joined the cause? You can bet your ass they don’t.”

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