On January 18th Internet websites shut down, including this one. The simultaneous black out was in protest of two bills before Congress, SOPA and PIPA. On January 20th, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shelved the Senate version of the bill, PIPA, for a floor vote and House Judiciary Chair Lamar Smith just suspended SOPA in committee. SOPA and PIPA are D.O.A.
I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns,” said Lamar Smith, House judiciary chairman and the sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, as he announced the suspension of work on the bill.
Mr Smith’s retreat followed a similar move in the Senate, where majority leader Harry Reid postponed a scheduled vote on the related Protect Intellectual Property Act “in light of recent events.
Some were not happy, such as Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy:
PIPA/SOPA supporter Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), miffed by this sudden turn of events, offers his own statement. “I understand and respect Majority Leader Reid’s decision ... But the day will come when the Senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem.”
What probably won't be discussed much is how finally Geeks got their political voice. Yes, Geeks finally got their groove on and entered full-bore into the political fray. Technologists, Engineers, Scientists are often sidelined, rarely voicing an opinion on legislation and policy. For the first time ever, a large group spontaneously organized and did something.
Geeks managed to get SOPA/PIPA discussed online more than almost any other topic. That's power folks.
As the debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) reached a breaking point this week, a new report found this topic was discussed more online than most other big events in 2011.
That’s according to research analysis firm General Sentiment with a new report on the SOPA/PIPA protest and its impact in the social media world.
According to the report, the SOPA/PIPA Protest ranked third in overall social media volume with 8.6 million mentions — higher than the 2011 Super Bowl, the Oscars, the Oprah Finale, and the American Idol finale and premiere.
Only the death of Osama Bin Laden (15.3 million mentions) and the Royal Wedding (14.3 million) attracted more social media attention.
The report goes onto say Wikipedia was the most influential and considering their daily traffic and use, that's probably true. But just like the Internet was originally called a web, it takes many voices, acting in concert, to put up a protest and have it actually succeed.
Intellectual Property Watch said the coordinated protest was the biggest online protest in history. The January 18th black out brought 10 million petition signatures, 3 million emails and 100,000 phone calls. Google's online petition alone received 7 million signatures.
Imagine what would happen if Geeks became more politically active. Did you know China's national economic strategy team is loaded with engineers? In the United States, can you name one member of Congress with an engineering or science background?
For example, what if geeks called the Attorney General to stop giving banks a free pass with slap on the wrist fines for mortgage fraud and abuses?
The latest bit of corrupt behavior is that the Obama administration has a full court press on to push the heinous “multi-state” settlement deal over the line. We’ve pooh poohed previous reports from Iowa state attorney general Tom Miller that a deal is just around the corner, since he’s been doing his variant on a Chicken Little act for a full year. But it appears the President wants a talking point, ideally for the State of the Union address or as shortly thereafter as possible.
What if geeks started piping up more? Can you imagine policy that was crafted on actual theory, statistics and facts? My, my, we might just pull ourselves out of this economic hole.
The Hollywood lobbyist behind SOPA and PIPA is Chris Dodd. He just retired from the Senate and was the Senate Banking committee chair. That's where financial reform legislation was further whittled down to useless Swiss cheese. Can you imagine what would have happened if Geeks stepped up when financial reform legislation was being crafted? We would not be in the financial mess we are still in today.
Anyway, congratulations are in order. Geeks, you just beat corporate lobbyists who spent an estimated $92 million trying to pass these bills.