In a show of solidarity with the Internet community, a group of popular websites will “black out” tomorrow to demonstrate what the world might look like if SOPA and PIPA pass. Participating websites include Wikipedia.org, Reddit.com, Mozilla.org and BoingBoing.com.
As the world’s largest DNS provider, more than 30 million people rely on OpenDNS to connect to the Internet. Without functioning DNS, you’d need to know the IP address for every website you visit. And lots of parents, schools and businesses rely on our website to manage their DNS-based and Web-based security settings. All that said, taking our service or website down for a day is not an effective way for OpenDNS to show our firm opposition to the bills. Since folks on Twitter and elsewhere are asking, we will be showing our support tomorrow, but we will not be taking OpenDNS offline.
What is an effective way for us to show our opposition is to censor search results on our Guide. One component of our service, OpenDNS Guide, helps give users a more thoughtful next step when navigating the Internet than the dead end of a 404 error. So when users of our free services attempt to visit a website that’s having technical issues, we show them search results that are based on what they entered in their search bar.
For one business day starting at 8 AM Eastern time tomorrow, we will randomly redact the text of search results appearing in OpenDNS Guide pageviews. This is not a decision we take lightly and we’re fully aware it can, and will, create a frustrating experience both for our users, and for owners of websites being censored. But with 30 million+ users we have the equivalent of a megaphone on the Internet. We feel it’s our responsibility to demonstrate the near-random methodology SOPA and PIPA propose to determine those websites contributing to piracy, and also what the Internet would look like if their fate was to be blocked.
It seems the efforts of the Internet community are making progress in the fight against these ill-informed bills. The White House issued a response, and now Lamar Smith has followed Patrick Leahy’s example, back-peddling and vowing to remove the DNS-blocking component of SOPA. Keep it up, friends.