Internet Companies Stage Unprecedented Online Protest

Internet companies are currently involved in an online protest against anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA … and the moves seem to be shifting Washington’s tune. Although the movie and music industries want Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Wikipedia and other online services to block non-U.S. websites with any pirated content, internet companies feel the bills promote censorship and bring a nuclear bomb to a war requiring surgical knives.

Google and Wikipedia both changed their websites yesterday in protest. Google users were met yesterday by a black box over the company’s icon with a message that read “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the Web!” linked to a page outlining Mountain View, Google’s opposition and an option to join an online petition. Wikipedia shutdown the English version of its website for 24 hours to protest the bills as well. Nine previous supporters in the Senate and House have also jumped ship …

“We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the Internet’s development,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted yesterday. Other sites supporting the protest included EBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY), LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE:LNKD) Reddit, Twitter, and Boing Boing.

Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Washington-based Motion Picture Association of America, said the protest is an “abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.”

Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican who is against the anti-piracy bills, commended the websites for their protests yesterday. “This unprecedented effort has turned the tide against a backroom lobbying effort by interests that aren’t used to being told no.” Issa said. He presented alternative legislation yesterday that would send complaints about piracy to the International Trade Commission.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurie Danas at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com