Reddit announced today it is to shutter its online doors for 12 hours in protest of legislation that will threaten the very foundations of the web.
The news-sharing site is without doubt one the strongest Internet communities the web has ever seen. It is also one of the strongest collective oppositions to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).
Its users have spearheaded an online war against SOPA from its initial conception, and have campaigned vehemently against the bill now being debated in Congress.
Its users helped spur on nearly 90,000 phone calls to U.S. Representatives through microblogging site Tumblr, and orchestrated a crowdsourced boycott of then SOPA-supporting domain name registrar GoDaddy. Reddit users even forced at least one Congressman to change his stance on the bill.
From 8am to 8pm U.S. Eastern Time on January 18th, one of the most popular sites on the web will suspend its operations, and replace its content with a video stream of a congressional hearing of the bill. Reddit's co-founder Alexis Ohanian will also be testifying.
Others have considered a synchronised blackout, from Google to PayPal, Twitter and Wikipedia, in a bid to replicate in the effect SOPA could have on the web and its users. The so-called 'nuclear option' would strike at some of the web's highest traffic websites, with the sites effectively shutting down for the day.
"We're not taking this lightly", the administrators wrote in a Reddit blog post earlier today.
"We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t believe this legislation and the forces behind it were a serious threat to Reddit and the Internet as we know it. Blacking out Reddit is a hard choice, but we feel focusing on a day of action is the best way we can amplify the voice of the community".
While it is the website owners and administrators who have taken the decision to close the site, it is clear from continued 'Redditor' user support that the 'nuclear option' is all but necessary to take one final stand against the freedom-infringing draft legislation.
With 35 million active users and 2 billion pageviews served in December 2011, the vast population of the site nevertheless serves as a reminder that U.S. legislators are not listening to the direct pleas of its electorate.
SOPA and PIPA are two of the most controversial pieces of legislation since the Patriot Act in 2001.
PIPA will force U.S. web providers into blocking access to 'copyright infringing' websites and seek legal action against other sites that link to such content. But SOPA is far broader, and will strike at the heart of the Internet itself by blocking swathes of domain names and IP addresses at ISP-level, as sister site CNET explained in a detailed article.
Image source: Reddit.
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- London Calling: U.S. ‘threatened to blacklist Spain’ over SOPA-style law
- CNET: Paul Ryan turns against SOPA following a Reddit-based attack
- Tumblr users fight SOPA with 87,834 calls to Congress