I was conducting research on the Web Wednesday, January 18 and found that I could not use some of the most popular sites on the Web. The corporations (Wikipedia, Google, and others) were protesting proposed anti-piracy bills -- the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) - which would have allowed the Justice Department to force Internet-service providers, search engines, payment processors, and online ad networks to block Web sites linked to selling counterfeit products. The Web opposition succeeded in stopping the bills from being passed by the House and Senate.
The Web protests made a point, but they hurt a lot of users and customers. Jeff MacGurn, Vice President of Covario, Inc. posted a blog with this infographic, "Who Did the SOPA Blackout Affect?" He wrote, "20,275,000 college students are stuck using Google caches of Wikipedia for their essays." Were customers being used as pawns? How could Web managers protest pending legislation without hurting their customers?