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Net Companies Consider the "Nuclear Option" To Combat SOPA 507

Atypical Geek writes "Alec Liu of Fox News reports that Amazon, Facebook and Google are considering a coordinated blackout of the internet to protest SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act being debated in Congress. From the article: 'Such a move is drastic. And though the details of exactly how it would work are unclear, it's already under consideration, according to Markham Erickson, the executive director of NetCoalition, a trade association that includes the likes of Google, PayPal, Yahoo, and Twitter. With the Senate debating the SOPA legislation at the end of January, it looks as if the tech industry's top dogs are finally adding bite to their bark, something CNET called "the nuclear option." "When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA," Declan McCullagh wrote, "you'll know they're finally serious."'"
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Net Companies Consider the "Nuclear Option" To Combat SOPA

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  • No need ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:53AM (#38563488)

    ... to black out an entire site. Just drop the candidates' Twitter, FaceBook accounts and websites immediately prior to various state primary elections or caucuses.

    You want panic? That'll be panic the likes of which you've never seen.

  • Stop Talking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:53AM (#38563494) Journal

    ... and do it. Either you have a backbone or you don't. Pick a day, middle of the week, say Jan 12th, and just do it. Announce you're doing it, and watch the others fall in line. True leadership doesn't wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:55AM (#38563512)

    Not really. A private company can decide to shut down at any moment, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. When a government decides to shut down private companies at will though, that's when shit hits the proverbial fan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:55AM (#38563514)
    What's interesting is that despite their size and financial power, the technology companies are very poorly organised and do very little lobbying when you compare them to the media companies. Which is why we get such horribly lopsided legislation such as SOPA.

    If the tech. companies actually got themselves organised in Washington instead of pulling silly stunts, they might actually find they can get a lot more done.
  • by kanto ( 1851816 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:56AM (#38563534)
    ... and underlines the travesty that democracy has become. It's bad enough corporations write the legislation now they're going to effectively start voting on them by themselves.. this should scare the living daylights out of us and not be some kind a source for celebration.
  • by shabble ( 90296 ) <qkjj13x02@sneakemail.com> on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:56AM (#38563542)

    "...and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA."

    Are they going to geo-locate IP addresses so those of us that don't have a congress-critter to talk to don't see what, to us, is a pointless message?

  • by mrclisdue ( 1321513 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:57AM (#38563546)

    A simple splash screen is fine.

    Except that, once SOPA is enacted, you will be greeted with a 404 when you try to login to your favourite site...forever.

    The point being that once SOPA is enacted, everybody becomes hostage.


  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:04AM (#38563600) Homepage Journal

    What a bizarre thing to say. A blackout of a handful of websites, especially when self-imposed, is hardly "blocking the internet." It's not in the same league as the government fucking up DNS for everyone whether they consent or not.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:06AM (#38563614) Homepage Journal

    And that attitude is why we are in this mess in the first place. You are all for it, as long as you are not inconvenienced.

  • by tjhart85 ( 1840452 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:10AM (#38563640)
    Yes, exactly! Getting the people involved is NOT the solution! The real solution is that they just have to offer a bigger bribe than the media companies!
  • Re:Editing fail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:11AM (#38563660) Homepage

    I actually like that name. It certainly reflects the wishes of the politicians better.

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:12AM (#38563670)

    They should start by targeting the entire U.S. and other "pro-SOPA" countries and leave the other countries alone. Why punish people all over the world just because a small minority of people in the U.S. are corrupt douchebag cockheads?

    Targeting only D.C. isn't going to do much...the vast majority of the people, particularly legislators, that are supporting this legislation hardly even use the web.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:18AM (#38563720) Homepage Journal

    You must be new here, just last year we wrote the copyright legislation for Spain and New Zealand, and shoved it down their throats (they passed it, grudgingly). We've twisted China's arm about movie piracy in the past, and plenty of other countries as well. We're terrible about installing dictators in countries, but we're really good at writing laws and making them law in other countries. What copyright law passes here in our bellwether country becomes law in 20-70% of the rest of the world.

  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:24AM (#38563796)

    The loss of one day's worth is far less than the potential losses caused by SOPA. Which include downright closure of your business.

  • Re:Srsly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:25AM (#38563804)

    I have no idea what you're talking about about this 'failbook wall' thing (I've never used Facebook), but I do know that Facebook, along with Google and Amazon, probably has the most to lose because of SOPA. As I understand it, it would make them responsible for the actions of their users, which would be completely unmanageable for them.

    This is why SOPA will fail. These companies cannot afford to let it pass because even if it did their only option would be noncompliance. This threat of a blackout is a warning. If they do go through with it, SOPA will be dead. Almost every single congressman's mailbox/e-mail server will be flooded with messages, it would be like a legal DoS.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:26AM (#38563816) Homepage

    Nope. That doesn't mean rattling your sabers didn't have an effect. Nobody launched a single nuke during the Cold War, but both the explicit and implicit threats obviously had a huge effect. They don't really want to go nuclear any more than anyone wanted WWIII.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:31AM (#38563868) Journal

    Your minor inconvenience is a small price to pay if we can avoid the major catastrophe of SOPA.

  • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:32AM (#38563874)

    You are confused. The fact that corporations do write legislation tailored to their needs is an obvious sign that the government is corrupt. Yet, having corporations react to the legislation that corrupt representatives are forcing onto a country is hardly any reason to worry about. You may complain that these companies are actively engaged in the democratic process, but this is the very definition of activism [wikipedia.org], which is supposed to be one of those inalienable rights which, when expressed, represent what a democratic system is all about.

    So, why exactly do you believe that activism is somehow worse than having corrupt politicians act as the lap dog of other corporations and special interest groups?

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:33AM (#38563880) Journal

    They should start by targeting the entire U.S. and other "pro-SOPA" countries and leave the other countries alone. Why punish people all over the world just because a small minority of people in the U.S. are corrupt douchebag cockheads?


    A) These are American-based companies and will have to follow SOPA even in their overseas operations.
    B) Once SOPA passes in the US, the copyright industry will immediately move to have it implemented in Europe in the name of harmonizing. And the European corrupt douchebag cockheads will go for it. The rest of the world will follow, because no country has any shortage of corrupt douchebag cockheads.

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:38AM (#38563938)

    Plus, some of the complaints are bullshit; for instance, the whole "serving information directly" thing, i.e., the way typing in a company's NYSE abbreviation brings up the little Google Finance thing with the current stock price and recent trends instead of giving results to a bunch of financial firms and shit. For the vast majority of users, they don't want to go digging around for a fucking answer to a simple question, they just want the answer. Typing "2 + 2" does not mean "give me links to online calculators."

    The only companies complaining about shit like that are companies that are trying to monetize public information, which is bullshit anyway. Forcing information to be obfuscated so as to force people to dig around on random third party sites seems like a step completely in the wrong direction in terms of progress.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:58AM (#38564136)

    >Ah, more fearmongering. No, my personal site will never be affected by SOPA because I generate all its content myself. My own photography, videos, thoughts and data feeds.

    Someone, maybe me, maybe someone else accuses you of infringing, whether true or not. Your upstream gets 100 percent protection from liability if they cut you off and none if they don't, because that's how "good faith" is defined in the bill.

    And I, as the accuser, do not suffer any consequences for false accusation.

    Guess what happens to your site.

    Go ahead, guess.


  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @11:59AM (#38564150)

    because I generate all its content myself. My own photography, videos, thoughts and data feeds.

    Prove it. Prove that it isn't owned by someone else. Then take that evidence proving a negative to a court, fight the district attorney, convince a judge that your personal site was wrongfully blocked. And then your site will be unblocked.

    Until they do it again.

    (Also, the parent said "favorite sites", not "personal site". With SOPA, the DA, at the behest of content owners, could block any site that they deem is infringing their copyrights or is aiding infringement. Like if Slashdot linked to a site that explained how to bypass SOPA blocks.)

  • by ancientt ( 569920 ) * <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:13PM (#38564260) Homepage Journal

    I hope they do and I hope you are right. Nothing could be better for the future of our country than for the impressionable youth to realize that their freedoms and access are protected only at the whim of corporate policy and fickle government oversight. I could actually hope the coming years would reflect the will of the people if the youth of today were sufficiently shocked.

  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:20PM (#38564304) Homepage

    If they're going to stop working and drag their feet on getting anything done, they should call it the "Republican option". Nuclear option implies a device that's working.

  • by Heddahenrik ( 902008 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:21PM (#38564312) Homepage
    >"Ah, more fearmongering. No, my personal site will never be affected by SOPA because I generate all its content myself. My own photography, videos, thoughts and data feeds."

    Bullshit! Some robot will notice that your notice that your stuff looks "copied" and you'll be gone. And if they can shove SOPA down your throat, you can be sure that you'll soon have to have a permit to have a website. And your thoughts are build on other thoughts, by the way, so they are just blatant copy-monopoly infringement.

    This is NOT fear-mongering. It's already happening! Youtube is deleting stuff that "seems" bad (like critique of SOPA) because of misuse by the entertainment mafia. Google's AdSense is removing from sites that MIGHT have copied stuff on them. With SOPA the mafia can also shut people up or at least make Internet at lot less useful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:30PM (#38564396)

    Why do you believe that generating all the content yourself is sufficient for you to "not be affected"? Just because your site happens to not actually be infringing is no reason for a competitor (or a thug from the MAFIAA) NOT to accuse you of infringing. Your site goes down for weeks or months, it turns out you're not infringing and it goes back up, and they do it again.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:56PM (#38564616)

    From the companies' perspective?

    Minimum wage 'kills' the 8 jobs that would have been around if McDonalds could pay only 2$ an hour instead of minimum wage.

    EPA regulations prevent companies from hiring more people with the money they use to clean up and meet regulations.

    Both of the above are reasons why corporations need to be beaten into the ground and held to very strict, and very punishing legal standards. And why the should NEVER EVER be allowed to participate in politics in ANY WAY.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @12:59PM (#38564634)

    What's the difference between Facebook, Google, et. al. taking themselves offline compared to the government doing it for them? From an end user's perspective, there is no difference.

    It's the difference between a dude in Tunisia setting himself on fire in political protest and the cops taking him away to be disposed of quietly. Choice. Freedom. Yes, if you get freedom to decide for yourself, that means the people running Google and Facebook get freedom too. It's part of the overall concept. And when people see that Google, Facebook, et al are willing to hurt themselves to stop this legislation, it might pique a little interest.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @01:00PM (#38564642) Journal
    Better watch out. Your camera manufacturer may change the EULA on the software your camera runs, claiming copyright on all photographs taken with the camera that you are granted license to use (you didn't really think that you OWN the camera, did you? No no silly boy, you merely bought a license to use it! All you base are belong to us!), therefore anything you post online is an infringement on THEIR copyright. Don't worry, I'm sure they'll let you off with a warning -- and a royalty fee for every photo you post on your website. Oh, and you website hosting company may change their EULA to claim copyright on all content they're hosting -- merely to protect YOU, of course -- so don't go thinking you own any of that, either. As if you ever did: The EULA on the software you used to create your site? Same deal: they change the EULA, and viola! Nothing you create with it is really yours, you just have a limited license to it, revokable more or less any time they decide you did, and unless you have a zillion dollars to pay a lawyer to fight it, you're screwed. And so on, and so on. Welcome to the world of SOPA: You own NOTHING.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 02, 2012 @01:31PM (#38564870)

    Same here dude. It blows my mind how little awareness there was of the issue. We desperately needed a nation-wide blackout of internet services to wake people up. But it never happened. And well, now we have both censorship and copyright cops.

    New Zealanders really sucked it all up. The information is out there (wikileaks) but noone takes notice or cares. New Zealand has a real apathy towards politics.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @01:36PM (#38564908)

    Yes, and the harmonization process involves negotiating treaty consent in a closed process, then bringing it back and claiming in the face of democratic opposition "we've already promised this" without any democratic consent in the first place.

    I wouldn't complain about my life suffering a DOS day for these companies to band together and make a point.

  • by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @05:27PM (#38566650)
    Ooooh, this is actually a scary prospect. This is a scenario where corporations threaten to shut down infrastructure in order to interfere with Congressional decision making process.
    It fills me with great satisfaction when congress critters can't google for the closest ladyboy escort service on their smartphone while they are supposed to pursue this nations best interests. And yes, I intentionally imply gross negligence, rottenness and hypocrisy when talking of elected representatives.
    But the line being crossed here is scary. They could also threaten a black out in favor for SOPA and the likes. We can't on the one hand complain about undue influence of corporations on the political process and on the other hand welcome it when it suits us. This is hypocrisy, too.
    Now black out that Google front page already!
  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Monday January 02, 2012 @10:20PM (#38568992) Homepage Journal

    Argue that all you want, but the fact is that politicians don't get paid all that much, yet Senators all live very well, well beyond what a $175k/yr salary would suggest.

    When the fuck did $175,000 / year get classified as not "all that much." Both of my parents combined never made even close to that amount and we grew up fine and dandy.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce