CISPA 2013 Blackout Staged By Anonymous Doesn't Go As Planned (UPDATE)

CISPA Blackout Doesn't Go As Planned

Notice anything different about the Internet on Monday? Unfortunately for Anonymous, you probably didn't. Anonymous called for an Internet blackout to protest CISPA, a cybersecurity bill currently making its way through Congress, on Monday. And while over 300 websites are participating, the blackout isn't really making its presence felt, since most of the sites blacking out are quite small.

The largest site taking part in the protest of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, is Reddit, though the entire website isn't blacking out. Each subreddit's moderator chooses for his or herself whether to blackout or not, a Reddit representative explained to the Huffington Post by email. For example, r/funny has gone black (literally, the background is black and the type is white), but r/technology has not. (UPDATE: The Reddit page r/technology went black later on Monday.)

"Reddit has additional activities planned to protest CISPA in the coming weeks," the site's Erik Martin said. When asked for details, the representative said that the activities "are super top secret, but /r/sloths may be involved."

This protest is nothing compared to the protest of SOPA and PIPA last year. In January 2012, thousands of websites protested the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) by going dark or publicly displaying their views. Those sites included Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, Mozilla, ICanHazCheeseburger, and TwitPic. Many individuals voiced their opinions on the matter by changing their Facebook profile pictures in protest.

The online protest of CISPA is so much smaller because a long list of major companies actually support the bill. Those companies include AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, McAfee, and Oracle. Tech policy group TechNet, whose members include Facebook and Google, supports CISPA, which pretty much eliminates those two sites from the protest. At one point last year, even Facebook and Microsoft supported CISPA, though they have backed off recently.

The sites that support CISPA like the bill because it removes the burden of monitoring users' activity, LifeHacker explains. If CISPA were to pass, sites could give any potentially threatening information they want to the government, and the government would deal with it. A site could not be sued for breaking its terms of service.

While CISPA could make a site's day-to-day easier, it puts users' personal information at risk, especially since a proposed amendment to the bill was shot down. The bill passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, despite a threat from President Obama to veto the legislation should it also pass the Senate and reach his desk.

UPDATE: April 23 -- The number of websites participating in the blackout eventually rose to 917.

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