Friday, Jan. 18 is the first annual Internet Freedom Day, celebrating the defeat one year ago of two bills that could have dramatically affected how many people use the Internet and social media.
Alex Fitzpatrick of Mashable explained the history of the new online holiday.
According to Fitzpatrick, "Friday, Jan. 18 marks the one year anniversary of the technology community's Internet blackout over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its sister bill, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).
"SOPA was intended to curb online content piracy, but Internet advocates warned it would have disastrous consequences for online free speech and worked to fight the bill. SOPA was shelved by its author soon after the blackout.
"The story of SOPA's demise has become such an integral part of the Internet advocacy canon that some opponents of the bill decided the date of the blackout deserves to be documented with a holiday: Internet Freedom Day.
"Internet Freedom Day was first proposed by lawyer Marvin Ammori in an early January op-ed for Wired, in part as a celebration of Internet advocacy and the SOPA saga but also of the Internet itself."
The official Internet Freedom Day website encourages people to celebrate by taking actions such as writing to Congress, signing the Declaration of Internet Freedom, or filling out a survey that allows people to discuss how they felt about SOPA and PIPA. There are several other links on the site that people in the greater Spokane area who are concerned about Internet censorship should explore.
Over at ZDNet, Violet Blue has published a list of some of the things happening around the Web to celebrate the new holiday.
According to Blue, "Right now, the [Electronic Frontier Foundation] is holding an open Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) saying they will answer any question about the issues surrounding Internet Freedom Day and internet censorship.
"The primary Internet Freedom Day website states 'Today, celebrate your freedom of expression' and encourages visitors to Tweet or post to Facebook, "What's something you love on the net that you’d never want to see censored?'"
The Internet Freedom Day site has shortcuts on its main page so people can answer that question on Facebook or Twitter. It also features shortcuts to Google+, Reddit and Tumblr, for people in the Spokane area who may be on one or more of those social networks.
Whether or not people in the greater Spokane area supported the Internet blackout last year, or the causes that online advocates currently support, this new holiday gives people a great opportunity to learn more about a lot of complicated issues and proposed bills they may not have heard much about before. It will be interesting to see what happens as a result of raising people's awareness.