At the start of 2012, many internet companies and brands teamed up to fight against web censorship, in the forms of the SOPA (stop online piracy act) and PIPA (protect IP act) bill. It worked very well, but now a new threat looms over the free internet. And it's headed by the UN.
In December, nations around the world will be meeting in Dubai to discuss proposed changes to how the Internet is operated. Currently, much of the Internet is operated by ICANN, a neutral NGO. Some nations in the UN want to transfer its power to the ITU so that member nations in the UN can have more of a say in how the Internet works.
Open Web proponents immediately decried the idea, and the US has been investigating the potential harm such a change would cause. For their part, Google has started another “Take Action” campaign that asks citizens from around the world to demand a free and open Internet.
Going off of precedent alone, Google may very well be successful with its latest campaign. The search giant, along with other Internet companies, were instrumental in mobilizing US citizens against SOPA and PIPA in January.
Of course, there are some key differences between the SOPA blackout and now that could swing the campaign in either direction. For one, trusted brands and companies like Google, Facebook and Wikipedia all came out against the legislation with blackouts and other extreme visual messages. The proposed changes in the UN have had no such campaign yet, and prolific Internet figures like Mark Zuckerberg and Jimmy Wales have yet to issue strong statements against it.
Google’s campaign, however, could make all the difference. The company could inspire the same amount of fervor if it were to lay a doodle over its homepage again. The company hasn’t done that just yet, but we could see more action on the part of Google as we move closer to the UN gathering.