This morning, anyone who logged onto popular blog site Tumblr saw a feed that looked something like the screenshot above. Rather than animated GIFs and the other usual fare of Tumblr, text and photos were greyed out and had censored stamps on them.
While this left many users befuddled, judging by outrage both on Tumblr and Twitter, you could click to get past it. Once you did, you were taken to this page, with Tumblr urging its users to call their representative about the PROTECT-IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which Tumblr called "two well-intentioned but deeply flawed bills."
Tumblr goes on to compare the censorship that would be possible thanks to these bills to that of China and Iran.
The bills in question would allow the government to block websites that perpetuate copyright infringement, particularly foreign sites which the U.S. government has currently had difficulty combating since they're beyond their physical jurisdiction. The law would also add penalties for users who violate copyright.
In an interesting use of technology, by providing Tumblr with your info, they actually call you, give you a list of talking points, then connect you to your member of Congress where Tumblr urges you to share your thoughts.
They include links to article on the bills from electronic free-speech organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation, tech site Ars Technica and venture capital site AVC, as well as an open letter to members of Congress from a wide variety of tech heavy hitters, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL and others expressing their concern with the legislation under consideration.
The open letter states that the companies behind it support the goals of the legislation, protecting copyright, but argue that it's better to handle it the way it's already being handled by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), protecting companies that attempt to take down copyright infringing material in good faith. They also voice their support for working to combat "rogue" website that infringe on copyright.
It's part of a larger effort to raise awareness for what's been termed "American Censorship Day," as tech advocates attempt to prevent this legislation from being passed.