Nov 30, 2011

Proposal: a general tech company strike

Taking a look at the execrable bills before Congress trying to quite literally destroy the internet as we know it, creating massive security holes at the same time, I was struck by a thought. The idea behind this bill—of a piece with the drug warrior mentality—is to seriously expand the reach and severity of legal punishment for downloading copyrighted material. Among other things, websites like YouTube and Twitter will be dragooned into policing their own users for fear of lawsuits, normal netizens will live in fear of criminal prosecution for infringing content (like singing a copyrighted song), and search engines will have to deal with the terrific headache of de-indexing a blizzard of infringing domain names, which will for obvious reasons pop up by the millions.

Here's the thought. This would be a stupendous waste of money for all the big internet companies. What if they all went on strike? Say the bill passes Congress and it's headed for the President. The next day, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Yahoo, Twitter, and so on all go dark, and are replaced by a sober video explaining why the bill is atrocious, plus the phone numbers of the president and their local representatives. Can you imagine the outrage?

In fact, the best objection I can think of is that it would be too effective. The internet is so key to the economy and basic support infrastructure that shutting down those key sites might cause serious damage. I don't know the technical details of this, but one might preserve functionality for key personnel, or maybe do it just for a day, or make it a click through on every site. The point is that the tech companies, their flaws aside, are for once all on the same side, the side of the average netizen, and they have tremendous leverage they could exploit in some way to defeat this bill. They should use it.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, have you considered lobbying as your day job? :-) B