The Day We Fight Back: can an internet protest stop the NSA?*
On January 18th, 2012, the world’s free encyclopedia went dark. “Imagine a world without free knowledge,” said a black splash page, warning users of a bill that could “fatally damage the free and open internet” and urging them to contact Congress. The bill was SOPA, a widely reviled piece of anti-piracy legislation, and Wikipedia wasn’t alone: Reddit, Google, and other huge sites either disabled access or hosted banners in protest. What happened next has become a touchstone for internet activists. Bill sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX), who a few days earlier had implied that SOPA’s opponents must be profiting from piracy, tabled his proposal almost immediately. Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA, compared the public outcry to the Arab Spring.