On Wednesday January 18, hundreds of big-name websites from around the world got together to protest the SOPA and PIPA legislation working its way through the halls of the U.S. Congress. Tucows, the Toronto-based global Internet services provider, joined the protest by going black for 24 hours. Rather than displaying domain registration page, the Tucows website instead posted links to information about SOPA and urged individuals to join the protest.
Being a company that provides Internet services on the reseller level, the involvement of Tucows is significant. They were joined by other names like Wikipedia and Reddit in a total blackout. Sites like Google and Mozilla also participated in limited ways, electing to change the look of their websites rather than go completely dark. Regardless, the fact that hundreds of prominent websites participated in one way or another has caused a big enough stir to stop the legislation in its tracks.
As of noon on January 18, two U.S. senators and two members of the House of Representatives originally listed as cosponsors of their respective bills have officially withdrawn their support. Furthermore, Rep. Eric Cantor, who heads the House committee responsible for crafting the legislation, has ceased work on the bill and tabled it indefinitely. Proponents have insisted that U.S. Senate continue to forge ahead, but with the defection of two Senators it’s likely more will follow, resulting in a shortage of votes.
Although the legislation technically only affects American websites and ISPs, its passage would have worldwide effects. If enacted as written, it would require even international sites to be banned in the United States if they were suspected of violating the law in any way. Those sites would be forced to remain off-line in the U.S. until the court system could deal with alleged complaints.