Sod the companies protesting SOPA - They don't care about you
As a British citizen I have patiently read plenty about the USA's SOPA/PIPA. I hope you extend me the same courtesy as I talk about the United Kingdom, my message is universal.
A rotten government, the final act of betrayal
In 2010 the UK had an unelected prime minister with an extremely unpopular government facing humiliation in the May elections. As a final desperate act in power the Labour government rushed through a piece of legislation in April, the Digital Economy Act 2010.
"This is an attack on everyone's right to communicate, work and gain an education" - Open Rights Group
Lobbyists, corruption, evil politicians & greedy rights-holders
Sound familiar? This story has it all. Lord Mandelson was the Secretary of State at the time. A whole two months before the public consultation on DEA was complete Madelson had decided he was going to push the legislation through parliament - clearly he wasn't interested in listening to the electorate, let alone representing them.
The legality of the Digital Economy Act 2010 has been questioned multiple times already. In May 2010 a new government came to power with a new leader, in November 2010 the UK prime minister David Cameron announced a review of how the UK deals with IP. "The lobbying process that has gone into this Bill has been quite destructive" - a quote from the reports section on DEA. It was clear the legislation wasn't pushed through for the best interest of the country, but due to the heavy lobbying of rights-holders.
"The [act] has given too much consideration to the interests of copyright holders, while ignoring other stakeholders such as users, ISPs, and new players in the creative industry" - London School of Economics
Opposition, media and accountability
This legislation was actually passed through parliament, given the fuss over SOPA in the USA you would imagine the DEA 2010 legislation had a huge reaction in the UK at the time, right? Sadly the answer is no, it didn't There were a vocal community of people who realised parts of this legislation had gone too far and will do more damage than good. The technology community was vocal but nobody would listen.
The mainstream media was eerily quiet, awareness just wasn't there. How many US citizens only found out about SOPA because of the huge blackout and support by websites? I am guessing it's a majority, only the tech-savvy were well aware before this event.
Why weren't Google or others protesting the DEA? The UK has a huge IP industry and is a massive customer for foreign companies such as Google. The answer is simple, the DEA didn't affect their bottom line. SOPA is clearly 'wrong', but if you think many of these companies are looking after you, you are mistaken. These companies couldn't give a crap about your civil liberties, they only care about making money and SOPA has potential to be damaging to their profit margins.
Hopefully given the level of support against SOPA the outcome for the USA will be good. The UK wasn't so lucky as the DEA only affected the British peoples liberties, not the companies, hence we had no support in our campaign against DEA. My point is this: our civil liberties, our digital liberties, get challenged constantly. Only a minority of informed electorate are fighting against massive lobbying and almost certainly corrupt government officials, things are bad. Don't idolise companies like Google because of their SOPA protests - they aren't looking out for your interests. The only person capable of looking after your interests is yourself. My advice: make sure you do just that.