Business, Economics and Jobs

Reddit sponsors internet 2012 national bus tour


A man holds a sign at a protest by the technology organization New York Tech Meetup against proposed laws to curb Internet piracy outside the offices of US Democratic Senators from New York Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand January 18, 2012 on Third Avenue in New York. Schumer and Gillibrand are co-sponsors of the Senate bill PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is the US House version.



Presidential candidates, watch out: the internet is coming for you. 

That's part of the motivation behind the Internet 2012 Bus Tour, a partially Reddit-sponsored junket that hopes to travel the country gathering stories of how the internet has impacted American lives — and draw bipartisan support for the Open Internet.

The bus tour is only partially funded by social networking juggernaut Reddit, meaning that an IndieGoGo fundraising website has been opened, allowing concerned citizens to kick in for the cause. 

As the Internet 2012 Bus Tour IndieGoGo page says: "From its ability to connect us to family across the globe, to its role as a massive engine for economic growth, the internet is [a] hugely important factor in America’s future (believe it or not, it’s not all cats)."

Read more: What is SOPA anyway? - Wall Street Journal 

What's the Open Internet, you ask? In case you were unfortunate enough to be living under a rock earlier this year, it's the key cause of a movement mobilized into action early in 2012 following the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA.

SOPA was accompanied by the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act, or PIPA.

Read more from GlobalPost: SOPA blackout protest yields results

The bills allowed the US government to shutter access to US websites offering pirated content. Sounds like a no-brainer, but the implications for an open, un-biased internet were profound, according to opponents. 

Censoring or restricting the internet in any way, according to opponents, could seriously constrain the remarkable innovation that has made the internet the force it is. 

A massive online campaign that included January blackouts of popular websites — including Wikipedia — forced the government to back off this time around.

Internet defenders recently drafted the Declaration of Internet Freedom, stating that signers believe "a free and open internet can bring about a better world."

Presidential candidates are likely to get the message, as sought-after young voters are particularly strong defenders of Open Internet measures. According to CNN, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian says some variety of Open Internet language may find its way onto the Republican platform, and he hopes Democrats will follow suit. 

Reddit's millions-strong user group can be a formidable force when mobilized, as vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan found out this year when he initially supported SOPA. Ryan reversed his position after an orchestrated online campaign called him out over the issue, helping SOPA's failure. 

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