The Internet won a resounding victory yesterday, as political support for two controversial bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), crumbled in the face of widespread resistance from the Web’s big players and small fry alike.
If you ever wondered if the Internet is an actual community—as some did when the Daily Dot launched—here’s your proof. Yes, there were physical rallies in San Francisco and New York to protest SOPA and PIPA.
But the blackouts of wide swaths of the Web—from Google’s iconic logo to individual Twitter avatars to the entirety of Wikipedia—were what made the difference. Those collective actions show that we inhabit a common space, that we hold common dreams, that we share a common future.
So where do we go from here? SOPA and PIPA still might make it to a vote in the House and Senate, respectively, though that prospect grows ever more distant with every congressional defection from the cause.
We need to harness this moment of unity to define some goals and pursue them.
Resistance to SOPA centered around a few themes: free speech, lightweight regulations that don’t burden innovators, and a wish to be represented by people who have a basic grasp of technology.
The last of those three seems to be the worthiest goal—since the first two seem like they’ll flow from it as a natural result.
Speaking of, I ran into Chris Kelly last night at a party for Face.com, a startup that just launched a facial-recognition app called Klik. Californians remember Kelly as the ill-fated candidate for state attorney general; Silicon Valley insiders remember him as Facebook’s former privacy czar.
“So, Chris, done with politics?” I asked him.
“No!” he answered jauntily.
The voters decided Kelly wasn’t the right candidate in 2010; he got pummeled, among other things, for Facebook’s lousy record on privacy—a reputation accumulated on his watch. I’m not sure he’s the right candidate in the future. But I’m encouraged that he keeps trying.
In that same election, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman got sent packing after spending an absurd amount of money in the governor’s race. She’s now back in the Valley running Hewlett-Packard, and it seems unlikely she’ll take another swing at public office.
But we need the likes of Kelly (a Democrat) and Whitman (a Republican) to renew the political sphere.
We definitely don’t need elected officials who are most easily reached by telegram.
Now, bear in mind that I stayed out a bit late Wednesday and may or may not have spent a couple hours as Randi Zuckerberg’s backup dancer while wearing a gold lamé jacket. I overshare this so you can fully assess my judgment, or lack thereof.
But I think the Internet already has the perfect candidate: Jack Dorsey, the executive chairman of Twitter and CEO of Square.
Look no further than his resume! He’s already proven he can multitask. Remember how Barack Obama, as a candidate in the 2008 election, declared that “presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time”? Boom, there you go.
These days, your political clout isn’t measured by the money in your PAC; it’s counted in Twitter followers. (Dorsey has 1.8 million.) For all the money that the movie and music lobbyists spent in Washington, they couldn’t push fundamentally bad laws like SOPA and PIPA.
So first we blacked out. Next step: Jack in.
The White House, that is.
Photo by magerleagues