Today, a coalition of websites promised an Internet-wide protest against the National Security Agency, similar to the mass blackouts that rose up against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Every major Internet company has come out forcefully against the bulk collection of Internet and phone data, so how did today’s protest stack up against SOPA? Here it is, in images of front pages (SOPA on top, NSA on bottom in each comparison):
Reddit, popular content aggregator
Wikipedia, crowdsourced encyclopedia
Boing Boing, Blog of Internet news and culture
Google, search engine and lots of other stuff
NSA protest (Google did put up a blog post explaining their position)
XKCD, super-awesome web comic
NSA protest (link to today’s comic on updating software)
Mostly Subdued, Slightly Different
The NSA protests are strategically different than SOPA. During SOPA, major websites completely took their sites offline or blacked out their front pages. Today’s protests put an easier call to action in the bottom half of the screen, such as a way to contact one’s Congressional representative.
But, anyway you slice the strategy, today is far more subdued. To be sure, this isn’t the first time a civil liberties-related protest has failed to capture the same SOPA outrage, either from profit or nonprofit websites.
During the last attempt against a failed cyber security bill, Reddit Co-Founder, Alexis Ohanian, explained to me: “The big reason is the imminent threat of shutting down things we love (like reddit, all of social media etc) that sopa/pipa provided. Whereas the obliteration of 4th amendment rights to privacy online isn’t as blatant, sadly, so it’s harder to rally around.”