Grass roots behind SOPA protest-IDG

February 11, 2012

Who really was behind the SOPA protests?

Grant Gross

IDG News Service: February 6, 2012



The future of civic engagement

As the Wikipedia and Reddit communities debated whether to stage a blackout — an idea that started with Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales in mid-December — a group of activists discussed other tactics and messaging on an email list that grew to more than 100 participants before the protest.

Feld, from Public Knowledge, called the group the “future of cloud civic engagement.”

The email list included members of Fight for the Future, Public Knowledge, CDT, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, Mozilla and Demand Progress, a liberal civil liberties group, participants said.

Last October, the group worked against a bill that would make the unauthorized online streaming of media content a felony—an idea that would make it into SOPA—and saw how a campaign could spread across the Internet through word of mouth, she said.

Fight for the Future counted 10 million petition signers during the SOPA protest, 8 million attempted calls to lawmakers and 4 million emails sent. More than 115,000 websites participated in some way in the protest, the group said. Dozens of lawmakers voiced opposition to the two bills during the week of the protest, with several withdrawing previous support.

Those numbers “seemed very fitting for our time,” Cheng said. “This is a struggle for free speech and is at the center of why people use the Internet and why they care about it.”

Wikipedia’s decision to go black to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act prompted other large players to join the protest.



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