January 1, 2012
In the growing battle for the future of the Web, some of the biggest sites online — Google, Facebook, and other tech stalwarts — are considering a coordinated blackout of their sites, some of the web’s most popular destinations.
No Google searches. No Facebook updates. No Tweets. No Amazon.com shopping. Nothing.
The action would be a dramatic response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill backed by the motion picture and recording industries that is intended to eliminate theft online once and for all. HR 3261 would require ISPs to block access to sites that infringe on copyrights — but how exactly it does that has many up in arms. The creators of some of the web’s biggest sites argue it could instead dramatically restrict law-abiding U.S. companies — and reshape the web as we know it.
A blackout would be drastic. And though the details of exactly how it would work are unclear, it’s already under consideration, according to Markham Erickson, the executive director of NetCoalition, a trade association that includes the likes of Google, PayPal, Yahoo, and Twitter.