Michael PhillipsRemember SOPA and PIPA? Of course you do!

I wrote about them in Why you should care about the SOPA and PIPA legislation, and we, along with a lot of very high profile sites, took part in a one day Internet blackout in January of this year.

It was hard to miss that.

The blackout turned out to be an effective way of forcing certain lawmakers to reconsider SOPA and PIPA, and question whether it was wise to risk supporting something so wildly unpopular.

Shortly before that action, however, few people were even aware of the proposed legislation. But in the summer of 2011, a brash new organization gave an unscheduled talk at HostingCon in San Diego, alerting the hosts in attendance that something was rotten in Denmark, and we had all better get into gear to do something about it.

That organization was called Save Hosting, an appropriate name that has now been changed to the equally appropriate but more inclusive and descriptive Internet Infrastructure Coalition.

Had PIPA passed unchallenged, it would have meant the end of many web hosting companies. So ever since that Save Hosting talk at HostingCon, we have been scrambling for ways to get our point across. We called representatives, emailed representatives, sent letters to representatives, sent messages via smoke signals and skywriting (okay, maybe not the last two), all of which were met with the formulaic and uninspiring response, “We support the industries that help fuel Southern California.” In other words; The movie industry lobbies and supports us, you don’t. Therefore, we’ll vote for their interests, not yours.

I know, it’s shocking that politicians would respond more to money than logic, but that’s the way it went down. At least until the geeks shut off the Internet for a day.

The January blackout was an effective one-time protest, but not something that can be done every time there is legislation proposed that would try to force the same kinds of crippling controls onto the industry that SOPA and PIPA sought. The Internet Infrastructure Coalition provides a public policy voice for those of us who make up the Internet’s infrastructure. They will lobby and educate our representatives in Washington, which should go a long way toward helping us avoid future potential catastrophes like SOPA/PIPA.

It has become very clear that we need is a consistent presence in Washington, and the Internet Infrastructure Coalition helps to provide that. That’s why we are a charter member, and will continue to support i2, as they’re known, and work to keep the Internet free.

 

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