The recent retraction by the Komen Foundation of funding cuts to Planned Parenthood is another example that online protest is powerful and here to stay. Captivating global audiences this time last year, the online communities that rallied together in the Arab Spring showed for the first time just how crucial internet freedom is.
It’s too bad that the international media has given internet freedom the human face of people like Kim Dotcom or Julian Assange, focusing on their personal lives and histories ultimately overshadowing the larger issue of internet rights. Don’t get me wrong, Assange’s polemic motives certainly aided in the Wikileaks demise, but the ideology of the whistleblowing site was quickly bypassed to focus on the man behind it.
For the time being congress has put SOPA and PIPA on hold after a national campaign, on and offline, by Google, Wikipedia and even Glenn Beck. But we shouldn’t assume that the controversy is over.
The friction between digital copyrights and commercial interests are going to reach fever pitch sooner or later demanding a better solution that can’t be protested away. Considering the US’s involvement in Spain’s newly inked copyright law, la ley Sinde, one can assume that the powers that be are merely regrouping and will come back harder and stronger with more industry support.
But they underestimate the insect-like resilience of the internet. No legal action has been able to put an air-tight seal on internet exploitation without impeding on rights of expression and free speech. Just like the days of the Napster witch hunt, the only certain thing that will come from the SOPA debate are more evolved ways to share information on the internet.