When you logged on to your Tumblr this morning (to catch up on the latest illustrations from Bloomberg View, of course), you probably noticed that all the posts in your dashboard were blocked with a "Censored" stamp.
Tumblr, a blogging platform, was just one of many Internet companies participating in so-called American Censorship Day, a protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act that went before the House Judiciary Committee today. The measure would give the government new powers to crack down on fraudulent websites -- often foreign ones that steal and sell American ideas and products -- and increase criminal penalties for counterfeit online traffic.
But there is more to the story. The bill (and a similar Senate measure) pits the U.S. film and music industries, which want the government to protect their intellectual property, against top Internet companies, who say the bill threatens the technology industry by limiting innovation. The committee received nine "statements of support" for the bill -- from organizations including Comcast, NBC Universal, the Directors Guild of America and the National Songwriters Association.
Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL and Twitter teamed up to oppose the measure, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. Others sites that displayed "censored" stamps on their logos today included Mozilla, Reddit, Techdirt and the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Do you think giving the government the power to shut down websites could do more harm than good? Before you answer, note that Disqus, the website that hosts our comments, also displayed a "stop censorship" sign on its logo today. (But don't worry. You can still leave a comment below.)
(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View.)