SOPA Opera

They Work For The Internet: Behind Silicon Alley All-Stars’ Marathon Coding Session at Tumblr to Fight Against Congress

Silicon Alley hits the political presses, snazzy logos and all.

DAVID KARP DOESN’T SEEM LIKELY FOR POLITICS. When the Tumblr founder and CEO explains what happened over the weekend, he speaks about it in his typically blazing conversational speed, a full paragraph at a time, with the intensity of someone who’s been sequestered on a coding project for the last three days:

“Basically,” he blasts off, “we had this gathering of the internet in our office, we had seventy people and a bunch of politicians on the phone”—and then pulls back to divest himself of credit—”though we didn’t organize the effort, it was the Demand Progress guys. We just put them up in our office, where we had forty-plus people around. We were in here all day on Saturday. We basically showed up to just say, ‘hey, anything we can develop we’ll help develop, in direct communication with dozens of people,’ and basically all of these founders and people in tech companies are standing by following all this,’” and by ‘this,’ Mr. Karp is referring to a piece of legislation going through Congress—”developing, working to figure out how they can seed it in their communities—propagate it—and get it out there. We literally just finished the copy, we had our team of engineers help build it.”

And yesterday morning, these efforts went live, the center of which was a quirky, live collage of user-submitted photos from those with jobs in the tech/online platform entitled I Work For The Internet that provoked the call to Mr. Karp. That was at the beginning of the day. Read More

SOPA Opera

Do Startups Lack Political Klout? Pushing the Innovation Agenda

Image via The Guardian

 

Tumblr’s 32.5 million users woke up last week to a vision of a dystopian future. ““WTF,” a frustrated fashionista working on her own startup wrote to Betabeat. “I can’t see any of my god damn archives. UGGGGHHH.”

Logging in to their dashboards, where they browse the stream of posts from the blogs they follow, users were greeted with text and images that were blacked out like the redacted sections of a classified briefing.

Those obscured blogs represented Tumblr’s take on American Censorship Day, a protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was going before a hearing of the Congressional Judiciary Committee that afternoon. The bill would allow companies to sue service providers like Tumblr or Facebook for hosting content like copyrighted music files or movies, a big reversal from the safe harbor provisions which had long defined internet piracy law.

The startup community, both entrepreneurs and the investors who back them, had been raising the alarm for several weeks about their concerns that this bill would cripple their ability to innovate and damage the internet economy. But if SOPA was the first real test of the political muscle of the entrepreneurs and small-business owners who are driving the tech sector, it was a test they would fail. Whether SOPA eventually becomes law or not, the issue provided a clear illustration to many in the startup world that they may be frighteningly unprepared to navigate the dangerous waters of Capitol Hill, where buttonholing trumps beta-testing and hard-nosed lobbying beats “likes.”

“We’ve got all these blogs and these Twitter followers, but when it comes to politics, I worry that we’re the tree falling in the wood and nobody is hearing us,” said Fred Wilson, New York’s most prominent venture capitalist and an outspoken opponent of the SOPA bill. Read More

SOPA Opera

Eric Schmidt Is No Fan of Censorship, Rips SOPA Act

Not a fan of censorship. Who knew!

It’s finally here! American Censorship Day is in full swing, with sites like AVC and upstart search engine DuckDuckGo censoring their banners in protest of the proposed anti-piracy bills going before a Congressional hearing. Yesterday the titans of the internet sent a letter to Coongress opposing the new SOPA bill. Sadly none of them have joined the American Censorship day movement. But luckily tech’s best big mouth, Eric Schmidt, got a few choice words in.

Back when he was CEO of Google, Mr. Schmidt was always getting into trouble for saying wild, borderline creepy stuff. But now that he is executive chairman, the man can finally let it rip without being the final word from Google. As Reuters reports, auring an appearance yesterday at MIT, Mr. Schmidt declared, “”The solutions are draconian. There’s a bill that would require (internet service providers) to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.” Read More

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Google Didn’t Remove Police Brutality Porn, But They Did Scrub a Bunch of Other Stuff

800px-censored_stamp

The Atlantic‘s Rebecca Rosen takes note of Google’s latest Transparency Report, in which the company boasts of their refusal to comply with a request “from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality.” Wonderful! Unfortunately, they did remove a bunch of other stuff, the contents of which they’re not about to explain in anything but the most vague terms possible. After an extensive look into the context of the report, BetaBeat can sufficiently surmise this: They were not cat videos. Read More