SOPA Petition Gains Steam, Some Are Less Than Enthusiastic About Its Prospects

    November 17, 2011
    Josh Wolford

We’ve recently told you about the backlash coming from all angles concerning the Stop Online Piracy Act (PROTECT-IP/E-PARASITE Act), a bill currently being debated in the halls of Congress that many feel would create the “Great Firewall of America.” The bill has been a topic of discussion and derision for free internet advocates on the web for some time now, and it was just this week that some big names on the internet like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and AOL threw their support against the legislation.

We reported earlier this month on the new petition site started by the White House called “We The People.” It’s a service where users can submit petitions on pretty much any topic, and if it receives enough signatures, the White House will issue an official response.

Back then, we told you about a We The People petition called “Stop the E-PARASITE Act” that had garnered over 7,000 signatures. And as of right now, it has over 38,000 and is growing rapidly. The petition was submitted on October 31st.

Here’s what it argues, quite succinctly and effectively I might add:

This Bill would allow essentially allow A Great Firewall of America and would be a shameful desecration of free speech and any sort of reasonable copyright law. The new Law would allow copyright holders to force websites which have any copyrighted material to be blocked by ISP companies around the country, without requiring that the websites be given time to take the offending material down. It would also put pressure on ISP companies to monitor their users like never before, a gross invasion of privacy. This bill is a direct assault on a free internet and a shameful attempt by copyright lobbyists to destroy net neutrality. Essentially it’s a censorship law that would end the internet as we know it in America.

The creator of the petition is a redditor, and he took to the site to talk about his petition, where he says thanks for all the support.

The problem is that not everyone has faith that the We The People initiative is all that helpful. Internet users in the past have expressed frustration over some of the responses from the White House, especially concerning a particular petition on the legalization of marijuana.

For instance, here’s the top voted comment on the reddit post about the petition:

I read that if a petition gets enough signatures, the president will personally print it out and wipe his ass with it.

Another example of the lack of faith in this new petition system comes in the form of an actual petition on the site called “We demand a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition.” It’s gathered nearly 12,000 signatures already.

Since these petitions are ignored apart from an occasional patronizing and inane political statement amounting to nothing more than a condescending pat on the head, we the signers would enjoy having the illusion of success. Since no other outcome to this process seems possible, we demand that the White House immediately assign a junior staffer to compose a tame and vapid response to this petition, and never attempt to take any meaningful action on this or any other issue. We would also like a cookie.

Each petition currently has to reach the threshold of 25,000 signatures in a month, so it looks like the White House is going to have to give a response to the Stop SOPA petition. Let’s just hope it’s not that vapid, condescending, politically safe response that many have come to expect.