Saturday, August 29, 2015

Internet protest, by the (astounding) numbers

Wikipedia and other sites went dark Wednesday, and Washington blinked. These astounding numbers may help explain why.

Internet protest, by the (astounding) numbers


Wikipedia and thousands of other websites went dark Wednesday, or remade their home pages, to protest what they called misguided anti-piracy bills pending in Congress, and Washington blinked.  Here are some impressive numbers, assembled by one of the coordinating groups, Fight for the Future, that may help explain why:

  • 4 of top-ten U.S. sites participated
  • 13 of top-100 U.S. sites participated
  • 115,000 small and medium sites participated
  • 50,000 websites blacked out all or part of site
  • 10 million people signed petitions to Congress
  • 3 million sent Congress emails
  • 100,000 called Congress
  • 31 senators, including five former co-sponsors, announced they opposed the Senate's version, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)
  • 2.2 million tweets mentioned “SOPA,” the House's proposed Stop Online Piracy Act
  • 411,000 tweets mentioning “PIPA”
  • 52,000 tweets mentioning “sopastrike”
  • 159,000 tweets mentioning “stopSOPA”
  • 428,000 Facebook members shared "" or ""

Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge, one of the many open-Internet groups warning against the bills, says the individual responses to the protests elevated them beyond the usual Godzilla-vs.-King-Kong nature of a typical corporate lobbying battle.

"The numbers are staggering," Brodsky says. "Just to make the point again, the protest would not have happened, and certainly would not have been this size, if this were simply a Silicon Valley (a.k.a. Google) vs. Hollywood fight. ... This is much broader and deeper than one company against another, or one industry against another."

Debate on the Senate bill is still scheduled to begin on Tuesday.  But a delay, like that in the House, would hardly be a surprise.  The Associated Press is quoting several senators who appear to be moving in that direction, including Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican who was among the senators who pulled back her support. On the other hand, is reporting that some key Democrats are sticking with their support - at least for now.

Said Ayotte: “The overwhelming input I’ve received from New Hampshire citizens makes it clear there are many legitimate concerns that deserve further consideration before Congress moves forward with this legislation.”




The numbers are staggering.  Just to make the point again, the protest would not have happened, and certainly would not have been if this size,  if this were simply a siliconvalley (aka Google) vs. hollywood fight.  Lots of groups, including Public Knowledge, helped to set the groundwork for it. The is much broader and deeper than one company against another, or one industry against another.

Inquirer Business Columnist
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About this blog

Jeff Gelles, who writes the Inquirer's weekly Consumer 14.0 and Tech Life columns, takes a broad look at the marketplace of goods, services, and ideas.

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