Anonymous Organizes CISPA Blackout, Not Many Web Sites Show Up

IT Management

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The SOPA blackout protest was something else. Google, Wikipedia, Reddit and other major online players blacked out part or all of their Web sites in opposition to a proposed bill that would have given the U.S. government unchecked power to regulate the Internet as it saw fit.

Likewise, CISPA gives the government and corporations the ability to share your private information without a warrant and without much oversight. The bill has been met with some resistance, but not enough. The House passed it with relative ease, and now the fight will go to the Senate. Now everybody's favorite (or most hated) hacktivist group wants to send the Senate a message with a blackout of its own.

Last week, Anonymous announced that it was organizing a CISPA blackout similar to the SOPA blackout of early 2012. Anonymous had hoped to coerce a number of Web sites into going dark today, but it only managed to get a little over 400 volunteers.

Getting over 400 Web sites to go dark for a day is no small feat, but it just doesn't compare to the thousands that went dark in protest of SOPA.

Of course, a CISPA blackout could be effectual if Web sites frequently visited by millions of Internet users went dark. Unfortunately, the heavy hitters behind the SOPA blackout (i.e. Google, Reddit, Wikipedia) are refusing to go dark today in protest of CISPA. There are probably a number of reasons for this, but we can only guess at a few of them.

For starters, CISPA isn't an immediate threat to companies. SOPA would burden Web sites with the responsibility of policing their own content. CISPA encourages companies to share private customer data with the government while granting them complete immunity from legal recourse. CISPA may not present any immediate threat to Internet companies, but Rep. Jared Polis argued last week that it would cause some pretty serious damage all the same:

"[CISPA] directly hurts the confidence of Internet users. Internet users – if this were to become law – would be much more hesitant to provide their personal information - even if assured under the terms of use that it will be kept personal because the company would be completely indemnified if they ‘voluntarily’ gave it to the United States government."

The other thing standing in the way of an organized CISPA blackout is the organizers themselves. Even among anti-CISPA Web sites like Mozilla, Reddit and others, Anonymous isn't exactly well-liked. The group's intentions may be pure this time around, but there's an argument to be made that CISPA was crafted in response to attacks from Anonymous and other hacking groups.

Anonymous' planned blackout isn't a failure, but it isn't much of a success either. That being said, it at least shows that large groups of people are in opposition to CISPA. It might not be opposed by the teenagers who use Wikipedia to write term papers, but those in the tech community are rightly concerned about the overly broad legislation. It's unfortunate then that Congress seems to think that only 14-year-olds living in their basements are the only ones opposed to CISPA.

[h/t: RT]