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One year ago today, thousands of websites and millions of internet users took action to stop major internet censorship bills in Congress, SOPA and PIPA. The protests changed the way many people think about politics by proving that bringing together an educated public to take action, online, can defaet the corrupt agendas of the most powerful interest groups and members of Congress. To celebrate this enormous, ground-shaking victory, we (PPF) are joining a bunch of the other groups that were involved in the SOPA fight in declaring today, January 18th, a new holiday -- “Internet Freedom Day.”

 

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This video presentation, by Prof. Yochai Benkler of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is one of the best articulations I've ever seen of the meaning of "participatory politics".

Please watch it in full & share it: Blueprint for Democratic Participation.

Help us facilitate more stop-SOPA-style civic engagement on OpenCongress - around the economy, education, health care, the environment, immigration, technology, or any issue imaginable - support our not-for-profit work. Click through for more of my thoughts on the importance of the stop-SOPA / PIPA movement for netfreedom, as well as why this research is so important for our core non-profit mission of promoting participatory democracy through free Web tools.

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Last month’s flurry of Stop-PIPA & Stop-SOPA online protests were an apex of activity for OpenCongress. Not only was January 18th, 2012 the single-highest day of traffic on OC since our launch in February 2007, but also the stop-PIPA action was in many ways the height of user engagement with active legislation in the U.S. Congress. The huge “Internet blackout” event on January 18th was OC’s single largest day of traffic, with over 250,000 visits and more than half a million pageviews (and likely would have been much higher if we could afford more servers and cloud-scaling ability to handle the traffic rush).

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SOPA/PIPA Dead ...For Now.

January 20, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Following a day of unprecedented online protest, the web censorship bills in Congress, SOPA and PIPA, have officially been tabled. “In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act (PIPA)," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this morning.

SOPA in the House was put on hold as well. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products," said Judiciary Committee Chairman and SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith. The SOPA mark-up was scheduled to resume on Feb. 18th, but it has now officially been postponed indefinitely.

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PIPA Vote Delayed, Notable Win, Now Kill It Off

January 18, 2012 - by David Moore

Update 1-20-2012, 10am ET: Sen. Reid has officialy pulled the cloture vote on the PIPA net censorship bill that was scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24th. Follow Ernesto Falcon for updates. Congrats to our new net-freedom sibling org. Fight For the Future & all our terrific allies in the American Censorship coalition.

While we savor this battle-win, keep in mind that net censorship should never have been a legitimate starting point - this terrible legislation was penned and pushed by Hollywood lobbyists & campaign donations, a perfectly egregious example of systemic corruption in the U.S. Congress - and that its supporters nearly succeeded in rushing PIPA / SOPA (the worst Internet legislation in history!) to a cloture vote - all this despite the largest online protest in history. Too close - too corrupt. To be clear, PIPA & SOPA are not dead, and we won't hold off on driving constituents to call their members' offices in opposition until they are past-doubt-dead.

Wednesday's #PIPA protest blew away OC's record for most web traffic in a day - over 256,000 visits, amazing. This post will be continually updated as we build-out our successful wiki community project: whip the Senate against PIPA. More info after the jump.

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New York Metro Area - Emergency #PIPA Protest Tomorrow

January 17, 2012 - by David Moore

For readers in the NYC metro area -- tomorrow, join me & over 12,000 others who have RSVP'd for this emergency NY Tech MeetUp protest of NY Senators Schumer & Gillibrand's office, in opposition to their continued co-sponorship of the #PIPA internet censorship bill. A diverse movement (tech entrepreneurs, non-profits, venture capitalists, independent media) is coming together in-person to attract public attention, protest the terrible, shoulda-been-non-starter PIPA legislation... and demand Sens. Schumer & Gillibrand remove their co-sponsorship immediately and convey to Sen. Reid that they'll be voting against PIPA on Jan. 24th when the Senate returns. If you're a New York state consituent, call and write your two senators to let them know you'll be attending the protest - and wherever you're located, use that link to hit up our wiki community project to whip the Senate against PIPA. 

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Six GOP Co-Sponsors of PIPA Ask Reid to Cancel Vote

January 13, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

In an incredible turn of events, six Republican Senators have asked Majority Leader Harry Reid not to hold a vote on PIPA, the Senate version of SOPA. They write, "Prior to committee action, some members expressed substantive concerns about the bill, and there was a commitment to resolve them prior to floor consideration. That resolution has not yet occurred."

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Help Us Whip #PIPA

January 13, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Ahead of the January 24th vote on the PROTECT-IP Act (a.k.a. PIPA) we're organizing a distributed public whip-count campaign to find out where each member of the Senate stands on the bill. This bill would establish the first ever internet censorship system in the United States, and our right to free speech depends on it being killed. It's being rushed to a vote on the first day back from January recess even though the only debate it's had so far was at an 8-minute mark-up session in the Judiciary Committee where no objections were heard. 

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Jan. 24th: Our Best Chance to Kill SOPA

January 12, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

The internet censorship bills that have been winding their ways through Congress are about to reach a key, make-or-break moment. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] has scheduled a vote on a motion to begin debate of the Senate version, PIPA, for January 24th, the day after they return from recess, and defeating that motion is our best chance for stopping web censorship from becoming law. Let me explain why.

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Today's biggest news arrived this morning with the announcement by influential Rep. Paul Ryan [R, WI-01] that he opposes the #SOPA net censorship bill. The Hill reports: "Rep. Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and a leading conservative lawmaker ... said he would vote against the legislation should it come before the House. ... [Rep. Lamar] Smith’s Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the bill when Congress returns from its recess later this month. The Senate is also set to vote on its version of the legislation, the Protect IP Act [#PIPA], when Congress returns."

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PIPA first on Senate agenda on Jan. 24th, 2012

January 3, 2012 - by David Moore

Happy 20-12 all, looking ahead to the second session of the 112th U.S. Congress. The House is officially back in session on Jan. 17th, and the Senate convenes on Monday Jan. 23rd. Until then it's all about district visits & fundraisers, generally speaking.

The most important blog post of the new year - so far - is by our ally Ernesto Falcon of Public Knowledge, giving an overview of the legislative process surrounding the net censorship bill PIPA when the Senate returns under Sen. Reid's prioritization. He writes, "On January 24th, Majority Leader Reid’s cloture motion will have matured its 30 hours and he will then be allowed to call for an up-or-down vote on moving forward to consider PIPA... For example, if 59 Senators voted yes on cloture and 41 Senators voted present or do not vote at all, it fails to pass."

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As grassroots opposition to the internet censorship bills known as SOPA and PIPA continues to build, the entertainment industry and their allies in Congress are scrambling to move them forward as quickly as possible. Here's an update on where things stand at the moment and what to expect when Congress comes back from the holiday recess.

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SOPA Mark-up Delayed as Support Continues to Crumble

December 16, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The fight to kill SOPA, which has been waged through exactly the kinds of online social networks that would be most at risk of being blacklisted under the bill, is itself a perfect example of why SOPA must be killed. Whereas traditional, corporate-owned media tends to be biased towards the preservation of social divisions that benefit those in power, online peer-to-peer networks have the ability to facilitate the kind of grassroots, cross-partisan coalitions that can make a difference on matters of fundamental rights like the freedom of speech online.

 

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During today's mark-up of the "Stop Online Piracy Act," a bill that would establish the first internet censorship system in the U.S., the House Judiciary Committee rejected a key amendment that would have removed provisions from the bill that call for entire sites to be blacklisted from the internet via DNS blocking, the same system used in the Great Firewall of China.

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SOPA Goes Through Staged Compromise, Still Censorship

December 14, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The notorious internet censorship bill known as SOPA is going to mark-up in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and ahead of the meeting the committee chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith [R, TX], has pulled a neat little trick. Smith has come out with a manager's amendment that eliminates the most insanely unconstitutional elements of the bill, leaving behind an expansive censorship system for the government and the entertainment industry that is meant to seem reasonable by contrast.

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