The tech sector is pulling out the big guns now as Google lines up against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The founder of Twitter, however, is calling blackout- and protest-style action "foolish".
Google, the web's top search company and one of technology's most influential powers in Washington, will post a link on the company's home page tomorrow to notify users of the company's opposition to the controversial anti-piracy Bills being debated in Congress.
Google confirmed in a statement that it will join Wikipedia, Reddit and other influential tech firms in staging protests of varying kinds against the SOPA and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which are backed by big entertainment and media interests.
"Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these Bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the internet," a Google spokesperson said. "So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page."
In response to questions about how the protest link would appear or be integrated, all Google would say is that it would not replace the company logo.
None of the protests are as dramatic as the one planned by Wikipedia. The English version of the web encyclopedia is scheduled to go dark for 24 hours.
The past weekend will likely long be remembered as a turning point in the debate over how to fight online piracy in the United States. Supporters of SOPA and PIPA once could boast of wide bipartisan support, but suffered a series of blows starting on Thursday to eliminate an important provision in PIPA.
By Friday, both houses of Congress had eliminated a requirement in each Bill that would have required US internet service providers to cut off access to foreign sites accused of piracy.
Following that, a group of senators — some of whom once supported PIPA — requested that a vote on the Bill be delayed. It was denied, but things kept getting worse for anti-piracy proponents. On Saturday came word the House would delay a vote on SOPA and then finally the White House, considered an ally of the music and film industries, suggested in a statement that the President would not support several cornerstone provisions of the Bills.
All of the news culminated in what may come to be known in the entertainment sector as Black Sunday. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation and one of the world's pre-eminent media tycoons, displayed a rare public tantrum via Twitter. In his posts, he accused the President of taking his marching orders from "Silicon Valley paymasters". Murdoch suggested Google was whipping up the opposition and was a "piracy leader".
Murdoch's outburst was startling. There was no hiding that the tide of the legislative battle had reversed and copyright owners were alarmed.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to go ahead with a vote on PIPA on 24 January.
In the meantime, the tech sector will go ahead with their protests in an attempt to enlist help from the masses.
Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, isn't likely to jump into the fray with any kind of rash protest action, labelling the whole thing as "foolish".
"That's just silly," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted in response to Radar reporter Alex Howard wondering if the microblogging service will also go dark over SOPA. "Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish."
Costolo went on to say that "not shutting down a service doesn't equal not taking the proper stance on an issue", adding that his company has been consistently "clear" in its opposition to SOPA