• SOPA Supporters Retreat in the Face of Funny Cat Picture Blackout

    Capitol dome, Washington DCThere's much that separates the life of a typical voter from that of a successful politician.

    The median net worth of a Congressperson is $913,000, compared to $100,000 for the rest of American households; the days of presidential candidates are punctuated by charter flights, high-stakes meetings with donors, and conspicuous consumption of deep-fried food products (okay, in some ways we are still One America).

    But today, thanks to online protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act and its Senate counterpart, PROTECT IP, which will have Wikipedia going dark for 24-hours, all Americans can feel a little like their leaders — unbridled from the harsh chains of "facts" and "reality…"

    Around the country, Americans will wake up without some of the oddball essentials of online life. No Wikipedia. No Reddit, a compendium of links to stories and funny pictures that draws millions a day. And no icanhazcheeseburger.com, which is the world's best-known collection of funny cat pictures. In Washington, however, the day will have another significance. It will culminate a surprising lobbying effort in which technology companies such as Twitter, Wikipedia and Google have used their massive reach into Americans' daily lives as a political weapon, to whip up support from online users.

    Woah, there! It's one thing for Wikipedia's blackout to turn us all into Rick Perry for the day, but taking away adorable kittens is political hardball. Supporters of an open Internet, Pat Leahy iz in ur Senate, somewhat mollifying ur concerns

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is scrambling to rewrite his bill to soften the blowback from the high-tech sector — and from senators worried about the political implications of jamming an industry that has the capacity to communicate across the planet in fractions of a second.

    Copyright-holders still exert a lot of influence in Congress, it's just that LOL Cats and those who love them may have more.

    Photo by Lester Lefkowitz/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Tags: House of Representatives, Internet, Patrick Leahy, Senate, Wikipedia


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