The Internet blackouts to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) were big news yesterday, but what type of impact did they have? Google on Wednesday blacked out the logo on its homepage, and linked to an anti-SOPA/PIPA petition that called on Americans to oppose the bills because they’d “censor the Internet and slow economic growth.” Google said today that 7 million people signed its petition, which the search giant will submit to Congress. Over on Twitter, the site recorded more than 2.4 million SOPA-related tweets between midnight and 4pm Eastern yesterday. The top five terms were SOPA, Stop SOPA, PIPA, and Tell Congress, the micro-blogging site said.
Wikipedia, meanwhile, was one of the sites that participated in Wednesday’s blackout (much to some peoples’ chagrin). In a statement, the site said that 162 million people saw Wikipedia’s blackout message on its landing page, while others “shut down Congress’ switchboards [and] melted their servers” with calls to stop the bills.”Your voice was loud and strong. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet,” Wikipedia said.
Throughout the day, there were reports of members of Congress dropping support for SOPA and PIPA, from Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, to Rep. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat. ”Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about the internet and free speech necessitate a more thoughtful, deliberative process,” Cornyn said in a note on his Facebook page. But while the blackouts certainly got some attention and scared off a few bill supporters, will they result in the end of SOPA and PIPA?
Though House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told Rep. Darrell Issa (sponsor of the rival OPEN Act) that he would not allow SOPA to hit the House floor, SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith said he would still markup the bill next month. PIPA, meanwhile, is still scheduled to be addressed by the Senate on Jan. 24 at 2:15pm, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Meet the Press this weekend that PIPA “could create some problems,” sowork needs to be done. Public pressure did, however, result in Rep. Smith stripping DNS blocking from SOPA. PIPA sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy has also voiced concern about DNS blocking, while Reid said a “manager’s amendment” to PIPA might be necessary. Keep an eye on the Senate in the coming days to see if the bill actually makes it to the floor next Tuesday.