Silicon Valley Dems join Web protest, black out congressional sites

Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo (Calif.) and Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), both Silicon Valley lawmakers with close ties to the tech community, joined a massive Web protest Wednesday by blacking out their congressional websites in opposition to anti-piracy legislation.

Visitors to eshoo.house.gov and lofgren.house.gov are greeted with a black page with bold white text reading: "Stop SOPA/ PIPA," referring to the House's Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate's Protect IP Act.

Users can click at the bottom of the page to learn more about the lawmakers' positions or to continue to their websites.

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“History is being made by the more than 10,000 websites that have chosen to boycott SOPA by participating in today’s blackout," Eshoo said in a statement, referring to the House's Stop Online Piracy Act. 

“Members of Congress need to hear about the consequences of SOPA, and when they do, they’ll learn of the serious consequences to the Internet the bill poses. It’s time to pull up the emergency brake on this legislation.”

Lofgren called the protest "inspiring" and urged people to contact their representatives about the legislation. 

"Do not underestimate the power you have," she said. 

The anti-piracy bills are designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of movies, songs and TV shows with impunity. The measures would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites deemed to be “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

Movie studios, record labels and business groups say legislation is needed to curb online copyright infringement and save jobs.

On Wednesday, thousands of websites, including Wikipedia, Google and reddit, staged a massive protest against the legislation that vaulted the issue into the public eye. 

The English version of Wikipedia shut down entirely, redirecting users to a page criticizing the legislation. 

Google, the most visited site in the world, placed a black box over its logo. Users who click on the box are sent to a petition claiming the bills would "censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American businesses."


—Updated at 2:22 p.m.