Stop Sopa or the web really will go dark | Dan Gillmor | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
As thousands of websites, including the English version of Wikipedia, prepare to “go dark” Wednesday in protest against internet censorship, a new explanation is emerging for the would-be censors’ acts: they simply don’t understand how the internet works. The evidence suggests otherwise.
Change “don’t” to “doesn’t’ and “Congress” to “Rupert Murdoch” in that search and you’ll find a bunch of new ones stemming from Murdoch’s spate of Tweets over the weekend, in which he denounced Sopa opponents and took special aim at his longstanding object of loathing, Google. Two of the resulting “he doesn’t understand” pieces came from people whose work I greatly respect: see this post at the Guardian by Jeff Jarvis, and this one by Mathew Ingram at the GigaOm technology blog.
I beg to differ. What we’re seeing does not derive from any misunderstanding. Rather, I’m convinced, this concerted push to censor the internet, through measures that would fundamentally break it, stems from a very clear understanding of what’s at stake. Indeed, legislation like Sopa, or its US Senate companion, the Protect IP Act (Pipa) – and a host of activities around the world – share a common goal. These “fixes” are designed to wrest control of these tools from the masses and recentralize what has promised to be the most open means of communication and collaboration ever invented.