Unlike last year's coordinated "blackout" protest against PIPA and SOPA, today's anti-CISPA protest is all fizzle, no sizzle. The popular technology subreddit group is also "blacked out," but that just refers to the background color; otherwise it's working just fine. (Personally, I kind of like the gray-and-purple-on-black scheme and think Reddit should keep it.) The main Reddit page is not participating, nor is Wikipedia, BoingBoing, Tucows, or any other site that's visited by more than the blog's author and his or her close personal friends. Even the Internet Defense League is taking a pass. And Google, Facebook, or Twitter? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Even the Anons don't really seem to have their hearts in it. The nearly five-minute video features about three minutes' worth of Hillary Clinton giving a speech on Internet Freedom in January 2010. The rest is mostly someone practicing his or her video editing skills using lots of shots of people wearing Guy Fawkes masks.
SOPA and PIPA were so much simpler
Does this mean that only 14-year-olds care about CISPA, as bill author Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich) claims? No. It means that CISPA is much more complicated than SOPA and PIPA, which were mostly just Congress's way of mollifying the copyright cartel. There are security aspects of CISPA that most people support; it's not nearly as simple as the Anons portray it.
It's a lot sexier to say "this bill sucks, let's kill it" than to say "this bill sucks, let's change the word 'primarily' in subsection B, paragraph two to 'only'" or to debate the use of the word "notwithstanding." It's hard to organize massive protests against vagueness and lawyerese. But that's where this battle is being fought -- and it's where our civil liberties may end up being won or lost.
Are you blacking out your site today? Post why or why not below (assuming you can see this, of course) or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "Welcome to the great Internet blackout of 2013 -- now resume your browsing," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.