Read­ers who are reg­u­lars at Red­dit or who close­ly fol­low tech­nol­o­gy news may have heard that the social news site is lead­ing the way in fer­ment­ing what’s being called an Inter­net strike against two destruc­tive, anti-Inter­net bills being pushed by Hol­ly­wood on Capi­tol Hill (the so-called “Stop Online Pira­cy Act” and the “Pro­tect IP Act”). The bills have been mov­ing towards the respec­tive floors of the U.S. Sen­ate and the U.S. House for months with lit­tle pub­lic debate.

Thanks to the efforts of an unusu­al­ly diverse and strong grass­roots coali­tion com­prised of pro­gres­sives, con­ser­v­a­tives, and lib­er­tar­i­ans, sup­port for these ill-con­ceived bills is final­ly on the wane.

But the fight is not over yet.

Last Tues­day, Red­dit’s admin­is­tra­tors threw down the gaunt­let and announced that on Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, they would be black­ing out the site — in oth­er words, going on strike — from 8 AM East­ern until 8 PM Eastern:

We’re as addict­ed to red­dit as the rest of you. Many of you stand with us against PIPA/SOPA, but we know sup­port for a black­out isn’t unan­i­mous. We’re not tak­ing this action light­ly. 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.

As we have seen yet again in the fight against PIPA/SOPA, the best ideas come from our com­mu­ni­ty. We all have just over a week to fig­ure out exact­ly what to do with our extra cycles on Jan­u­ary 18th. Please join us in the dis­cus­sion in the com­ments here and in /r/SOPA.

Since Red­dit announced its deci­sion to go on strike, dozens of oth­er sites and orga­ni­za­tions have announced that they will join in the black­out. The list now includes Boing Boing, the Cheezburg­er net­work, Minecraft, Wikipedia, and hun­dreds of oth­er web­sites. Mozil­la, Tucows, the Free Soft­ware Foun­da­tion, Free Press, and many oth­er orga­ni­za­tions are also tak­ing part.

We at NPI have decid­ed to join in the strike. On Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, our nor­mal home page, The Advo­cate (this blog!), In Brief, and Pacif­ic NW Por­tal will be blacked out and replaced by an anti-SOPA/PI­PA action cen­ter. The action cen­ter will also be promi­nent­ly fea­tured on Per­ma­nent Defense and the Olympia Newsriver.

In addi­tion, we’ll be post­ing strike updates through­out the day on our Twit­ter and Face­book feeds, encour­ag­ing all NPI sup­port­ers and fol­low­ers to join us in express­ing our oppo­si­tion to these bills to Congress.

We are strong­ly opposed to SOPA and PIPA because either of these bills, if passed, would endan­ger Inter­net free­dom. And that’s some­thing that mat­ters to us more than just about any­thing else. Before NPI exist­ed phys­i­cal­ly or legal­ly, it exist­ed as an idea on the Web. Like oth­er net­roots orga­ni­za­tions and tech star­tups, NPI’s roots are vir­tu­al. If the Inter­net had­n’t been invent­ed, NPI would nev­er have come into being. The same goes for the rest of the net­roots community.

The Inter­net is the first mod­ern medi­um for com­mu­ni­ca­tion that is not con­trolled by gate­keep­ers who run Hol­ly­wood stu­dios, the­ater chains, broad­cast media empires, big box stores, record labels, and pub­lish­ing hous­es. That is because it is decen­tral­ized and open: there is no cen­tral author­i­ty dic­tat­ing who gets access. Com­pared to oth­er media, the bar­ri­ers for entry are low. Any­one who wants to set up a site of some kind, or par­tic­i­pate in a com­mu­ni­ty set up by some­one else, can do so with­out need­ing a ton of mon­ey or connections.

Media exec­u­tives have long viewed the exis­tence of the Inter­net as a threat to their pow­er. That’s why they have been try­ing to sneak leg­is­la­tion through Con­gress that would allow them to use the Depart­ment of Jus­tice as their own pri­vate law firm. They want the abil­i­ty to cen­sor the Inter­net as they see fit. And that means attain­ing the pow­er to dis­con­nect web­sites with­out due process.

We can­not let the MPAA, RIAA, and the media con­glom­er­ates they speak for win. We have to stop these bills. Noth­ing less than our First Amend­ment free­doms — free­dom of speech, free­dom of the press, free­dom of assem­bly, and free­dom to peti­tion — are at stake. We need to set a good exam­ple for the world to fol­low. That means keep­ing the Inter­net open and demo­c­ra­t­ic, as it was designed to be.

We invite you to join us in this day of protest by con­tact­ing your mem­bers of Con­gress and let­ting them know you are strong­ly opposed to both SOPA and PIPA.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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