Yesterday, thousands of websites (including Neatorama) protested against SOPA and PIPA, the two Internet censorhip bills making their way through the US Congress.
The effect was immediate - the bills quickly lost support in Congress. Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times reported that a growing number of members of Congress announced their opposition:
First, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising Republican star, took to Facebook, one of the vehicles for promoting opposition, to renounce a bill he had co-sponsored. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who leads the G.O.P.’s Senate campaign efforts, used Facebook to urge his colleagues to slow the bill down. Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina and a Tea Party favorite, announced his opposition on Twitter, which was already boiling over with anti-#SOPA and #PIPA fever.
Then trickle turned to flood — adding Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Representatives Lee Terry of Nebraska and Ben Quayle of Arizona. At least 10 senators and nearly twice that many House members announced their opposition.
Yay us! Or, as comic Jon Stewart says, "angry nerds." Jon went on to ask whether any of the congressional committees in charge of regulating the Internet actually know what they're talking about (3:30 mark on the video).
Ask a nerd? What a great idea!. They should ask a nerd, so we can tell them how bad SOPA and PIPA are. The precursor to the current version of SOPA was actually even worse. It has a provision that require changes to the Internet's domain name system to "blacklist" rogue websites. That, according to web experts would break the web.
Here's the story by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries of The Wall Street Journal of how the controversial DNS-based blacklisting scheme got dropped in the rise of "nerd lobby" in Washington, D.C.:
Late last fall, a select group met in the White House Situation Room to discuss U.S. Internet security and how it might falter if two anti-piracy bills being debated in Congress were to pass.
The attendees included veteran Washington policymakers and cyberdefense experts. But one person – an engineer named Dan Kaminsky who specializes in an arcane set of rules governing how people connect to the Internet – stood out.
“I’ve never seen anyone in the Situation Room without a tie before,” said one of the Washington policymakers who was there.
Welcome to the world of the nerd lobbyist.
In his defense, Kaminsky said "he didn’t wear a tie because he didn’t know that the meetings would be taking place in the 'actual White House.'"