As the pirates of Silicon Valley rage against each other – as they have for decades – with patent infringement suits, new technology introductions, verbal quips against competitive CEOs, and a host of other one-upsmanship activities that would make any Congressional Committee Chair proud, we’ve recently seen an interesting coalescence of solidarity among technology companies that hasn’t been seen in ages: a united – and ultimately successful – front against SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act.

While privacy-focused organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been laser-focused on stopping technology-focused legislation that restricts privacy for some time, this is perhaps the first occasion since the NSA’s introduction of the ill-fated Clipper Chip in 1993 that has brought together so many industry competitors into what is being portrayed as a fight for their very survival. By proclaiming the House-driven SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate, PIPA, as “Blacklist Bills” that will stifle First Amendment speech, fail to curtail online piracy, and present a nightmare engineering scenario for everyone from ISPs, to corporate network managers, to federal agencies, corporations and public policy groups alike (such as the EFF) have killed this legislation. Internet stalwarts such as Wikipedia and Reddit went “black” for a 24-hour period in protest, and others (I’m looking at you, Craiglist and Google) displayed messages of solidarity with otherwise competitive organizations. Content providers kicked their P.R. and lobbying machines into high gear, and pulled hard on the ears of any Representative or Senator willing to listen. Keep reading →