Today in Connected Consumer

Today is SOPA Blackout Day. Wikipedia, Reddit, Craigslist, WordPress and other leading web sites have gone dark today in a coordinated show of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT-IP Act. Google goes semi-dark, partially blacking out its logo on the home page but leaving the search service accessible. The protests themselves have now triggered a backlash, however. MPAA CEO Chris Dodd denounced the blackouts as a “dangerous gimmick,” while PROTECT-IP sponsor Patrick Leahy accuses the protesting web sites of “hiding behind the black box of self-censorship.” Even some opponents of the bills take issue with blackouts, such as Fordham University media professor Paul Levinson,” who argues that blocking access to information on sites like Wikipedia is a poor way to make a point about the dangers of blocking access to information on the Internet.

Today in Connected Consumer

The big news over the weekend was the Obama Administration’s announcement via the White House blog that it would oppose the DNS blocking provisions of SOPA and PIPA. The White House had obviously slipped the word late last week that the announcement was coming to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committess, respectively Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Ver.), the bills’ principal sponsors, because each announced Friday that they would drop that provision from the measures, at least for now (Smith, Leahy). The White House announcement is unlikely to be the last word on the matter, however. On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would move forward with PIPA as planned later this month even without the DNS blocking provision, a move that ultimately could force the House to respond in kind. Meanwhile, interest groups on all sides of the issue are gearing up for a protracted battle over how far the government should go in combating online piracy.