Today I want to take a break to blog about a subject that is typically something I avoid on any of my blogs: politics. I typically don’t air my points of view in this area because it’s something private and personal, and I don’t believe that it’s something to shout about from the mountain tops. Today, however, there’s a major issue evolving in the United States that effects our community – both bloggers and readers alike – and in support of websites like Google and Wikipedia, I am going to black out this blog for the day.
If you’re a blogger, there’s an important piece of legislation up on Capitol Hill that will affect you – and you don’t have to live in the United States. The House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and its partner in the Senate, the Protect IP Act or PIPA, are bills that overreach and limits the right of free speech by blocking any website that so much as links to any content or website deemed to be “infringing” – even if the owner was not the one to post it. The proposed DNS blocking system is the same as the system used by China, so that anyone with an IP based in the United States will not be able to access the websites on the “blocked list”. If your website is flagged, you will lose your entire readership base in the United States (check out your personal traffic stats to understand the impact on your blog!), which obviously has huge traffic and advertising consequences. As a reader in the United States, you may no longer be able to access your favorite blogs if they are flagged. While the White House is now backing down from their original support of this bill because of the DNS blocking provision, it’s important to send a firm message to Congress to let them know this is utterly unacceptable.
Edited to Add: I am not going to go a full page black today (like most websites) because I’m hoping to pass on the word to other bloggers via this post on RSS as well as the blog. Please pass it on, and contact your representatives! Wikipedia has made it simple to find those you need to reach, as well as tools to help you contact them.