The Washington Post

SOPA visual petition riles up the ‘geek lobby’

(Screenshot, I Work for the Internet)

SOPA is a bill that would empower law enforcement to shut down any site that hosts pirated content. Under current law, the sites only have to remove the offending content. Opponents, whose activism went viral with the catchy phrase “Don’t break the Internet,” argue that the bill could kill some of the most popular sites on the Web. Google has been one of the most outspoken critics of the bill. In an interview with The Hill, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said the bill would “criminalize linking and the fundamental structure of the Internet itself.”

On Tuesday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) introduced a manager’s amendment that addresses some but not all of these concerns, The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama writes: “The proposed changes include: clarifying that the bill is aimed at foreign Web sites, nixing language that would have required redirection from rogue sites, clarifying that service providers don’t need to block subdomains and narrowing the definitions of some key terms in the bill to focus on bad actors.”

Still, the “Geek Lobby,” as they’ve been called, are wary of the impact that SOPA will have on the Internet’s freedom — and the impact it could have on their jobs. That’s why they’re posting their photos, names and job titles on I Work For the Internet, a visual petition designed to put a face to the people that SOPA could harm. Contributors have expected titles — systems administrator, entrepreneur, software engineer — and some uncommon ones, like “digital performer,” theoretical physicist, and musician (SOPA could have a big impact on artists).

Defying the stereotype of the pasty computer nerd, they’re a super-attractive bunch of people, too. Go there for some geeky activism that’s easy on the eyes. Will pretty protesters sway Congress? That remains to be seen, though with the last-minute edits, it does seem like the Internet protests are making some inroads.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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