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24 January 2012

SOPA, PIPA And Now ACTA - New BlackOut Protests In Poland

Today Wikipedia reveals the result of the website black-out I wrote about last week, and the figures are impressive. I quote from Wikipedia:

During the blackout:
  • The Wikipedia page about SOPA and PIPA was accessed more than 162 million times during the 24 hour period.
  • More than 12,000 people commented on the Wikimedia Foundation's blog post announcing the blackout. Most supported the blackout.
  • More than eight million looked up their elected representatives' contact information via the Wikipedia tool.

Did all the protests help? No, that cannot be claimed, at least not yet. Support for SOPA and PIPA has decreased in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate, but work on the two bills continues.

At the same time many are discussing ACTA, The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This is an international trade agreement, which is negotiated by the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and a few other countries. The goal of ACTA resembles that of SOPA and PIPA: to enforce copyright and tackle counterfeited goods. The United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and a few others have already signed the treaty.

One big problem with ACTA is that all the negotiations are held in secret, and a wave of protests has arisen against the treaty. I am glad that Sweden has acted for better openness. The European Union has not signed ACTA, but now the Polish government has announced that it will.

Therefore, tonight many Polish websites will go dark for one hour to protest against their government's plan to sign the ACTA treaty. For the same reason Polish government websites have been attacked during the last days, and several of them were paralyzed on Sunday and Monday.

Still the Polish leaders say that they will to stick to the plan. And what can they do? Of course they cannot give in because of website attackers.

To close down a website is a more honorable way to show ones opinion. Even if we don’t know yet if the US protests will make a difference, the Wikipedia statistics clearly show that they were noticed. In that respect they were not made in the dark!