Anonymous has called for an Internet blackout to protest CISPA, the much maligned cybersecurity bill that threatens your privacy more than it protects it. But without the support of Reddit, which co-sponsored last year’s SOPA blackout, the Web isn’t listening.
About 200 hundred sites have joined the #CISPABlackout today in protest of CISPA, which last week passed the House of Representatives. That may sound like a big number, but the list mostly consists of small sites within the hacker community. That’s a big contrast to the last year’s SOPA protests, which drew support from huge organizations like Google and Wikipedia.
Exceptions include the nonprofit Fight for the Future, which has tweeted solidarity but has not blacked out its site. Another is Stan Lee’s Comikaze, the comic book convention backed by the former Marvel Comics head honcho, which has blacked out its site.
A Reddit Divided
Reddit itself appears conflicted over the CISPA blackout. Some Reddit sections, aka subreddits, have switched their background color to black and added a CISPA protest banner and link, but have stopped short of a full blackout that would inconvenience users by obscuring links. As of about 11am PT, subreddits including “pics,” “politics,” “funny,” “askreddit” and “technology”) have black backgrounds, although their listed links remain visible in the foreground. Reddit’s front page and subreddits such as “news” and “worldnews” remain un-blackened.
It’s a clear case of the hacker collective overestimating its influence, as my ReadWrite colleague Dan Rowinski suggested to me in chat earlier today. “Without Reddit, it is just Anonymous proclaiming something into its own echo chamber,” he wrote.
It also doesn’t help that Internet firms themselves are divided on CISPA. Microsoft and Facebook may have recently walked back their support for the bill — which, by the way, faces a veto threat from President Obama — but Google hasn’t taken a position. And a rogue’s gallery of telcos, ISPs and other tech firms support CISPA.
CISPA threatens our privacy by essentially giving the government a blank check to monitor all of our online communication, without a warrant. So a sign of solidarity blacking out the Web would be a good thing. But it seems the collective isn’t as influential in garnering support as it is when its making cyberattacks. Which is too bad, because this mission would actually be a good thing.
Below is a video from Anonymous explaining more about the blackout:
If you want to contact your local senator or congressperson, check out this list of contact information from Anonymous. Here’s some background on Anonymous’ plans and how you can further support the blackout.
Lead image via Imgur, although it’s circulating across the Internet and its provenance is unknown