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Remember the Blackout

Wednesday, February 5, 1997 by Dave Winer.

A short piece, in the middle of much website work, to remind everyone that Saturday February 8 is the first anniversary of an important event in our new medium -- the web blackout of 1996.

It's already history. In some circles it's not fashionable to remember that the United States government attempted to censor free speech on the Internet. I believe it would be cynical to overlook it.

We defeated the law, even though we re-elected many of the politicians who tried to outlaw free speech in the name of protecting children.

I'm building a website that will go live on Saturday to commemorate the protest, and to serve as a monument to the spirit of free speech. To remind us that this is a worldwide community, and no political system has the power to enforce its standards of decency on the medium.

The battle to retain our rights is ongoing. Important organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union deserve and require our support. It's easy to lose sight of the principles that we believe in, to be distracted by questions of corporate survival, of fear or greed. These are interesting issues, no doubt. But this is a creative and expressive medium and to protect its potential, unqualified free speech is essential.

I played a small role in the web blackout last year. This year I hope to facilitate, to organize more sites and help to spread the word that free speech is not an option, not something that can be traded or limited and that no compromises are possible.


If you run a democracy-related site, large or small, please visit the page before Saturday and register. If you know someone who does, please pass this on. And if you value free speech, please visit the site on Saturday or later. It'll be a fascinating trip thru Internet history, if nothing else!

Remember the blackout. Remember why it was necessary. Don't let people use children as an excuse to deprive people of their power to express themselves.

Dave Winer

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."