A few websites have censored themselves dramatically over the past few weeks, to raise awareness about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA,) a bill currently in the US House of Representatives. SOPA, while perhaps noble in it's simple name, is a very broad set of rules that govern the internet. In a nutshell, it grants the US greater and wider power over policing copyright infringement and counterfeit goods. It allows for the government to order ISPs to ban access to sites, foreign or domestic, they deem as infringing, or offensive. And while processing these allegations and infringements, it provides immunity to the ad and payment networks involved. They'll stop the site from accepting payments on copyrighted goods, but any money made from ads or transactions, can stay with their respective companies.
Not surprisingly, the biggest backers of the bill are gigantic entertainment names, like the MPAA, RIAA, Viacom, Nike, and others. Those against, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, AOL, eBay, and others are among the most vital names in technology. The legislation is currently worded very broadly, which opponents say needs to be more precisely defined in order to be effective. In it's current state, it dangerously impacts free speech by it's vague description.