Internet Giants Consider SOPA Strike

Mike Halsey MVP
Dec 30, 2011
Updated • Dec 11, 2012

The Stop Online Piracy Act in the US is getting ever more publicity with GoDaddy one of the high profile companies to suffer from supporting it as we wrote a couple of days ago.  In our previous article Martin summed up SOPA very effectively.

If you are living in the United States, you should have heard about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and Protect-IP, which, when passed, would give companies rights that they should not have. If it passes, IP rightsholders (a term vaguely defined) could send notices to payment processors or ad services like Google Adsense to force them to stop doing business with listed websites, all without legal process.

Site owners have five days to file a counter-notice, but neither payment processors or ad networks have any obligation to respect it. Even worse, they are granted “immunity for choking off a site if they have a “reasonable belief” that some portion of the site enables infringement”.

The coalition is made up of some very big names on the Internet including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, eBay, PayPal, AOL, Foursquare, IAC, LinkedIn, Mozilla, OpenDNS and Zynga.  If the plan goes ahead all these services could be taken offline for 24 hours.

In a report by CNet...

When the home pages of,,, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA, you'll know they're finally serious.

True, it would be the political equivalent of a nuclear option--possibly drawing retributions from the the influential politicos backing SOPA and Protect IP--but one that could nevertheless be launched in 2012.

"There have been some serious discussions about that," says Markham Erickson, who heads the NetCoalition trade association that counts Google,, eBay, and Yahoo as members. "It has never happened before."

This wouldn't be the first piece of anti-piracy legislation around the world to face stiff opposition.  France have already passed an Internet copyright law but the Digital Economy Act in the UK stalled in the face of arguments from major Internet Service Providers British Telecom and TalkTalk.

Many reports say that SOPA is still set to pass the US congress and that very few Americans have heard about it.  Shutting down services such as Facebook and Google, and replacing them with anti-SOPA messages for a day would certainly raise awareness, but a question mark remains over whether doing so only one day before the congress vote would be effective enough.

This is the first time ever that major websites have threatened to effectively go on strike to boycott something, and it is completely unprecedented.  It is unclear at this time whether the services would be taken down worldwide or just in the US and also how serious the coalition are about the boycott, which would inevitably lose them all a day's trade.

Services are commonly targeted for IP addresses anyway and it wouldn't be difficult for these companies to target messages to their US-based users.  With many millions of visitors every day in the US, companies such as Google and Facebook could achieve this on their own.  Imagine then how much more leverage they would have with Amazon, Yahoo! and others on board.  If this goes ahead it is still possible that other companies could follow suit, effectively crippling the Internet in the US for the day before the vote.

So what do you think of SOPA and your favourite websites being taken offline for a day?


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  1. JR said on January 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I hope they take them down and refuse to bring them back up until this bill is shelved, thrown out, tossed on the garbage heap entirely. I completely support this action. Show these losers in Congress who openly laughed at getting any input from the “nerds” they despise, who don’t even KNOW how the internet actually works and don’t WANT to know, who holds the real power here.

    It’s the nerds. The ones who really own the internet. The ones who run it.

  2. ConcernedAmerican said on January 3, 2012 at 3:15 am

    What they should do is put a banner on top of their websites (similar to what Wikipedia does for their fundraisers) warning users of what’s about to happen a few days before the blackout. The banner could also link to some information about SOPA and PIPA and who supports or opposes it.

    On Google, a banner alone would definitely get people to notice.

  3. Noah B said on January 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I’m all for shutting down internet service for a day if it will wake more people up to the situation and stop SOPA. But I’m concerned that the day before voting might be too little time to react.

  4. Mike J said on January 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I am not going to laboriously type out posts just to see them censored for some obscure reason. Hence, this will be my last.

    Happy New Year, everyone!!

  5. Xarala said on December 31, 2011 at 7:08 am

    They should totally do this, it would cripple SOPA worse than taking an arrow to the knee!

  6. Dave said on December 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    A drastic idea but it might bring home to the non-techie computer users of this world what’s happening. Reckon it might just work!

  7. Wayfarer said on December 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    SOPA isn’t just an assault on the internet – it’s an assault on democracy and due process by people who care for neither when profit is at stake. If it’s allowed to go through, it will demonstrate once and for all that none of us count for anything in the face of the industrial neocons.

  8. George Maness said on December 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Please, if you can, advise the companies involved that I’m willing to forgo their services for a day (or more) to defeat this anti-American legislation.

    This Internet Action should be in two phases: Three days before the vote and the day before the vote.


  9. Paul(us) said on December 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Would be a good thing for the country who it concerns. Hopefully there also looking out that there are not blocking country’s which it not concerns.

    1. Midnight said on December 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      The U.S has a tendency to stick it’s nose in other Nations business, regardless of the consequences and create more enemies each and every day!

      Hopefully, Congress gets a wake up call and foresees the damage SOPA will cause before it’s too late!

  10. Yoav said on December 30, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I hope this happens.

    It would be a shame to destroy the internet for the sake of one industry that refuses to adapt to new technology.

    1. Tony said on January 16, 2012 at 12:03 am

      Completely Agree

    2. Jim Mooney said on January 15, 2012 at 7:19 am

      Besides, a friend in the industry told me music promoters are crookeder than boxing promoters. Except for stars, most musicians get a sliver of the twenty bucks they charge for a plastic disk. We’re destroying the net for These bribing bozos? It’s awfully suspicious that Congress has failed to pass nearly Anything with near-total gridlock, but they can all Suddenly pass this abortion. Methinks me smells fat election year bribes to Congressbums.

      “The only natively American criminal class is Congress.” –Mark Twain

  11. Martin Brinkmann said on December 30, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Lets hope they check by IP if the user is from the US. Would not make much sense to black out the Internet for users from other countries.

    1. Midnight said on December 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm

      SOPA has got to be one of the most ridiculous ideas ever dreamed up by U.S. politicians, who’s only goal is to score brownie points with the current administration!
      There will be so much backlash, not just from the U.S. but from around the world, that the bozos in Congress will never be allowed to live it down!

      Pure political suicide and nothing more!!

    2. ilev said on December 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      SOPA will affect ALL users around the world, not just America.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm

        I know, but only US citizens can contact their representatives. It does not make sense to block access to a service in this case if you are not from the US.

  12. Roman ShaRP said on December 30, 2011 at 10:58 am

    As I always support opposition to the copyright regime, I support the idea of strike!

  13. Matt said on December 30, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I, too, wonder if a shutdown one day before the vote would be too late, but I’ll be mighty impressed to see it happen at all.

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