In September, Senators questioned whether Google had too much power. Lawmakers got a taste of just how much power Google can wield yesterday.
Blacking out its logo and urging its users to “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!” Google added 4.5 million names to a petition opposing controversial anti-piracy bills SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), the Los Angeles Times reported. (UPDATE: Google has updated this number to "more than 7 million" people in the U.S. who have signed the petition.)
The petition, which is still available via Google’s End Piracy, Not Liberty website, warned the millions who visit Google every day how the two anti-piracy bills would result in censorship and hurt American businesses: “Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.”
The 4.5 million people who signed Google’s petition is in addition to the more than 3 million people who had already signed petitions opposing SOPA, according to Google’s “Congress, Can You Hear Us?” graphic on the website.
In addition to Google, here are some other stats the LA Times reported out of the mass online protest yesterday:
- 1.458 million people signed a similar petition to Google’s at Avaaz.org.
- Fight for the Future reported “at least 350,000 people have sent emails to representatives in the House and Senate”.
- More than 103,000 people signed petitions through the We the People website
- 25,000 WordPress blogs blacked out their blogs, while another 12,500 added a “Stop Censorship” ribbon.
Meanwhile, Twitter reported there were more than 2.4 million SOPA-related tweets between midnight and 4 p.m. yesterday. The top five terms were: SOPA, Stop SOPA, PIPA, and Tell Congress, and #factswithoutwikipedia.
Elsewhere, MC Hammer, the former rapper and man behind the forthcoming “deep search engine” WireDoo, spoke an anti-SOPA rally yesterday in San Francisco.
“We don’t want people who spend their days legislating trying to control creativity,” Hammer said, according to a WSJ report. “I speak on behalf of a lot of artists … who would like to be able to continue to utilize the valuable tools that the Internet has brought.”
Today, support for the bills seems to be eroding, and Bloomberg credits Google in part for “changing the legislative debate in Washington.” However, a visit to Wikipedia is a good reminder: “We’re not done yet.”
“SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows,” reads a message on Wikipedia’s site, which also noted that 162 million visitors yesterday saw their anti-SOPA message. “What’s happened in the last 24 hours, though, is extraordinary. The Internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine, and as Wikipedia went dark, you've directed your energy to protecting it.”