Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Google Joined the Protest for SOPA and PIPA

Along with numerous websites taking a stand with the SOPA movement by blacking out their web site for a 24 hour period, Google had also expressed its opposition to SOPA which Google stated - along with countless critics and professional search engine optimization experts around the world agreed - would censor the web and hurt U.S. businesses.

The SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act, also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.

Proponents of the bill say SOPA will provide protection of the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs, and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites. Meanwhile, opponents - like Google and many search engine optimization experts - say that it violates the First Amendment, is an internet censorship, will cripple the Internet, and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions.

Although some sites like Wikipedia have gone black for the day, Google had instead covered its logo in black, adding a short message on its home page: Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web! It linked to a new End Piracy, Not Liberty page where Google encouraged its users to sign a petition against the legislation and also shared a message that expressed its opposition to the controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA. The message stated that the two bills which are now in Congress known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House “would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA. The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.” 

A PDF/infographic detailing the groundswell of opposition to SOPA and PIPA is also included in the page. 

Meanwhile, both Bing and Yahoo have not blackened their sites though Yahoo’s Flickr photo sharing site has shown its involvement by letting users darken any photo on the site.

Microsoft issued a statement that said the company does oppose “the SOPA bill as currently drafted,” but neither Microsoft.com nor Bing.com makes any mention right now of that opposition. 

Why should marketers and Professional SEOs be concerned?

SOPA would greatly impact common Internet functions such as linking or accessing data from the cloud. According to the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), the bill would ban linking to sites deemed offensive, even in search results and on services such as Twitter. 

Christian Dawson, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Virginia-based hosting company ServInt, has predicted that with the bill, many cloud computing and Web hosting services will be moving out of the US to avoid lawsuits. 

So, if you want to make a stand, then Google has offered an advice on how to blackout (turn off) your web site for a day without hurting your short-term and long-term rankings in the Google search results.

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