On Thursday April 18, as most eyes were glued to the TV screens as the manhunt for the suspected surviving Boston bomber went underway, the House of Representative passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, by a vote of 288 to 127.
The law was first introduced in 2011 and approved the following year by the House. It died in the Senate, however, after opposition and criticism had out-poured from citizens who simply liked their privacy to civil liberties groups like the ACLU. This time, as expected, the opposition and criticism against CISPA, which would make it legal for websites to release private information to the U.S. government without your permission, has resurfaced, but this time it is being led by a much more influential leader — Anonymous.
Among the other tweets from the vigilante group that highlight news and injustices around the world and in the U.S., the most prominent tweets have been a repeated call to action — a request that we all call our lawmakers, sign petitions and do whatever else we can in order to protect our constitutional rights and keep the internet free.
They have also called for an Internet Blackout day on Monday April 22. And instead of just abandoning the internet as the name may connote, the goal is to help spread awareness of the dangers of CISPA. And even better, they made it just a little bit easier for all of us to participate in the CISPA blackout by posting a memo that provides us with a new Twitter avatar and tweets made to fit within the 140 character confines with a link for further information and, of course, a hashtagged #stopCISPA.
At one of their websites, they further explain the internet protest, saying:
"We are going dark on MONDAY April 22nd at 6 a.m. GMT for 24 hours to protest your illogical and terrorizing bill against the Internet itself. Even with the whole Internet crying out to stop this BILL, the US House of Representatives failed to do so blinded by lobbyist's money and cum in your eyes. So we will take action ourselves and open your eyes. Every popular/mainstream websites [sic] will be black until you, Mr. DronObama promise us to use your VETO power to stop this bill at Senate. Take this as a protest or a warning, as you wish. One thing is for certain, neither you or anyone else in this world can control the Internet, so don't even try. Stop wasting taxpayers' money into doing these kind of shenanigans."
This also isn't the first time the internet has pulled together to protest against a ludicrous bill. In January 2012, more than 7,000 websites had protested against SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), including Wikipedia, Tumblr, Reddit, and Google. The bill was shelved two days later. Here's to hoping the same websites come out in support this time around too, and help put an end to CISPA.