Anti-SOPA, PIPA protests to continue

Buoyed by success of Web blackout, protesters say fight continues 'til bills defeated

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"As of this morning, the traffic is still running close to that increase," Meeks said. He added that CDT plans to stay engaged with the new "geek lobby" that appears to have sprung up in opposition to SOPA and PIPA. "We will continue to be active in monitoring the legislative process going forward and will make our expertise in this area available to congressional staff, if they choose to call on us."

According to Wikipedia, its main blackout page was viewed by more than 162 million visitors. More than 12,000 people left comments on the Wikimedia Foundation's blog post, while eight million people looked up contact information for their local representative's using a Wikipedia tool.

"The purpose of the blackout was twofold: to raise public awareness, and to encourage people to share their views with their elected representatives," Wikipedia's message said.

Despite the protests, the bills are far from dead, Wikipedia cautioned. "SOPA and PIPA are symptoms of a larger issue. They are misguided solutions to a misunderstood problem."

Security vendor ZScaler yesterday pointed to a noticeable increase in traffic to Wikipedia's site during the blackout -- mostly from Internet users apparently curious to see what the site looked like.

While the number of users rose, the number of transactions per unique user was much smaller compared to normal, ZScaler blogger Mike Geide noted. "This behavior could be described as 'online rubber necking,'" Geide noted in his blog.

SOPA and PIPA are designed to give content and IP owners more tools to go after foreign sites allegedly dedicated to copyright infringement, IP theft and counterfeiting. Critics say that the bills are badly constructed and will force U.S. website owners to be copyright cops on behalf of content owners.

Many also fear that the bills give too much power to content owners to pursue sites that they deem are infringing on their rights. They argue that the provisions in both bills would chill innovation and enable a sort of Internet censorship and prior restraint in speech.

The growing crescendo of opposition to the bills has resulted in a dramatic erosion of support for both SOPA and PIPA over the last few days. But both bills, though weakened, are still alive. The vote on PIPA is scheduled for Jan. 24 while SOPA is scheduled to be marked-up in early February.

See more on the controversy over SOPA.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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