After the Darkness
The anti-SOPA movement lives beyond yesterday’s blackout
Tech / 19 Jan 2012
SOPA and its Senate counterpart, PIPA, are two controversial bills currently moving through the ranks of US government. With all of the buzz surrounding yesterday’s interweb blackouts, some might be wondering if it’s the second coming of OWS. Despite the White House now shelving SOPA until further notice, hundreds of websites still moved forward with protests, effectively demonstrating the looming threat of censorship. But now that the blackout is over, what's left? Here are some notable protest projects and tools worth mention.
Dan Bull’s “SOPA Cabana”
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Gen Ys are no stranger to political melodies. So, when Dan Bull, a self-proclaimed geeky rap artist from the UK, released his cheeky protest tune “SOPA Cabana”—a parody to the tune of “Copacabana”—it immediately went viral. A crowdsourced collaboration between the musician and 86 individuals found over Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, the video features protestors holding up lyrics and handwritten notes reflecting their collective thoughts on the proposed legislation. While this isn’t Bull’s first foray into web-distributed comedy, the “dystopian future” that “SOPA Cabana” warns viewers of is no laughing matter.
No More SOPA app
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As is the case with most widespread social movements, a number of bespoke SOPA protest tools quickly emerged. Inspired by the successful boycott of GoDaddy, students at the University of British Columbia created this Android app that, when used to scan product barcodes, alerts prospective buyers of the company's ties to SOPA. Currently using a public UPC database of over 800 businesses, the program’s creators hope to soon expand the app to not only add nuances, such as the exact relationship the company has with SOPA, but other political issues as well. Since the app’s launch, more than 17,000 users have downloaded it, and more than 11,000 items have been scanned.
The Darknet Plan
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Facebook alternative Diaspora is struggling to win over members, but the concept of independent alternatives to mainstream technology services remains appealing to Gen Ys. Indeed, in response to SOPA, amped-up Redditors are joining this young subgroup, also known as Meshnet, with the goal of building a meshed-based, censorship-free version of the Internet that values anonymity. Networks that circumvent a centralized provider have seen success before: One Laptop Per Child runs on a similar system, as does the State Department. Grassroots activists backing the project, which was originally founded by now 17-year-old Chris Bresee during his junior year of high school, believe that should the Internet become censored, The Darknet Plan will be the ultimate reprieve from suppression.
©The Intelligence Group