Jan 16, 2012 at 2:39pm ET by Matt McGee
A number of websites are (or were) planning to “go black” this week while the U.S. Congress discusses issues related to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The website blackouts are part of a larger social media effort against the bills that our Greg Finn wrote about this morning on Marketing Land.
You may be thinking about joining the website blackout movement, but yikes … what about the SEO implications? How do you take your site offline in protest without messing up your visibility in Google’s search results?
Well, Google’s Pierre Far shared several tips earlier today on Google+ in a post called “Website outages and blackouts the right way.”
In short, the advice is to use a 503 HTTP status code to tell spiders that the website is temporary unavilable. With a 503 status, Google won’t index the content (or lack thereof if you’re blacking out your site) and it won’t consider the site as having duplicate content issues (when all of the pages are blacked out).
But Far adds a couple important caveats to this advice regarding the robots.txt file and what will happen in Webmaster Tools if Google finds your site blacked out. Another Googler, John Mueller, adds additional information in the comments, so you’ll want to read the original Google+ post if you’re thinking about blacking out your website this week for SOPA, or in the future for any other reason.
Of course, also keep in mind that Bing may not handle things the same way if you do blackout your site.
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About The Author: Matt McGee is Search Engine Land’s Executive News Editor, responsible for overseeing our daily news coverage. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He blogs at Small Business Search Marketing and can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. See more articles by Matt McGee
Wikipedia Will Go Dark On January 18 To Protest SOPA And PIPA
posted 7 hours ago
Chris Velazco is a mobile enthusiast and writer who studied English and Marketing at Rutgers University. Once upon a time, he was the news intern for MobileCrunch, and in between posts, he worked in wireless sales at Best Buy. After graduating, he returned to the new TechCrunch to as a full-time mobile writer. He counts advertising, running, musical theater,… → Learn More
Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales wanted to send a “big message” to the U.S. government regarding the two heinous internet censorship bills currently being considered, and after a brief period of debate the world’s encyclopedia will soon do just that.
The Wikipedia founder announced on Twitter today that starting at midnight on Wednesday, January 18, the English language version of the world’s encyclopedia will go dark for 24 hours in protest of SOPA and PIPA. With their commitment confirmed, Wikipedia will be joining a slew of websites and companies that will suspend their operations for one day in an effort raise awareness around the two bills.
Meant to curb IP theft and piracy, the (imaginatively named) Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act have raised eyebrows recently due to their decidedly scorched-earth approach to handling suspected offenders. Websites found to offer pirated content, along with the services that they use, could be hidden from US internet users by being delisted on search engines and potentially on DNS servers themselves.
Rather than let users access Wikipedia’s vast stores of English-language information on the 18th, Wales mentioned that the Wikipedia landing page will instead be populated with a letter of protest and a call to action that urges readers to get involved with the issue. It doesn’t appear as though the new landing page has been finalized, but one of the community’s prototypes can be seen above.
The news comes after a lengthy debate as to the particulars of such a grand gesture — whether or not the site should participate at all, which versions of the site would be affected, and how exactly the blackout would go down were all on the table for the community to discuss. Ultimately, the consensus pointed to a full blackout as a the proper way to make their collective displeasure known. There’s no official word on how other parts of the site will handle the event, although Wales has mentioned that the German language version of the site will be displaying a banner in support.
Meanwhile, some of SOPA’s supporters are already reacting to the very public backlash against the bill. Ars Technica reports that Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) would be pulling his DNS-blocking provisions from the bill after having consulted with “industry groups across the country.” What’s more, the White House has responded to two petitions about SOPA and PIPA on the official White House blog stating that they will not “support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
Wales notes on Twitter that while SOPA has been “crippled,” buts its counterpart in the Senate is still very much alive and very dangerous. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently popped up on Meet The Press claiming his continued support for PIPA even though it “could create some problems.”
Though the event is meant to raise public awareness over two critical pieces of legislation, Wales still took a moment to offer a bit of sage advice for students heading back to school:
Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday! #sopa
19 Dec 2011 at 5:09 PM
The former military intelligence analyst accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks has spent the last four days in a Maryland military court, undergoing a hearing to determine whether or not his case will proceed to court-martial.
For those new to the party, 24-year-old Bradley Manning is accused of committing the biggest security breach in American history. He has been in detainment for the last 19 months, and he faces a multitude of military charges.
The Article 32 hearings, which began on Friday, are something akin to grand jury proceedings in civilian court. At the end, Investigating Officer Colonel Paul Almanza, an Army Reserve officer and Justice Department prosecutor, will
deciderecommend whether Manning’s case will proceed to court-martial.
So far, the hearings have been interesting to say the least. Let’s see what’s going on….
Manning, who turned 24 Saturday, is charged with 22 violations of military law and faces possible life imprisonment. Manning, who at the time was an Army intelligence analyst, is accused of abusing his access to classified computer systems to leak diplomatic cables, Iraq and Afghanistan action reports and the so-called Collateral Murder video to WikiLeaks. In chat logs published by Wired, Manning allegedly told Lamo that he leaked the documents as an act of political protest against a corrupt system and the he snuck files out of a shared workroom using rewritable CDs labeled with pop stars names, such as Lady Gaga.
One of the bigger revelations from the hearings is that the government produced chat logs from Manning’s own computer, where the soldier allegedly discussed leaking the cables. The messages had previously been made public, but Julian Assange and other Manning supporters claimed the chat messages could have been fabricated. Because the government found the logs on Manning’s own computer, forgery seems less likely.
The hearings have been understandably tense. Manning has a lot of supporters in the technology community. Although he has spent the last year and a half in custody, many say he is a whistleblower, not a traitor.
Back in April, more than 250 legal scholars signed a letter protesting the way the Justice Department was treating Manning. In the letter, signatories including Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe protested Manning’s “degrading and inhumane conditions.” The letter called the military’s conduct illegal and unconstitutional.
On Friday, the hearing started with a bang when defense attorneys accused Investigating Officer Colonel Almanza (the equivalent of a judge in the case) of bias, because of his work as a Justice Department prosecutor. The defense unsuccessfully asked Almanza to recuse himself. (Hmm, I wonder where we’ve seen that before?)
Earlier today, retired lieutenant and prominent Don’t Ask Don’t Tell activist Dan Choi told Politico he was wrestled to the ground and handcuffed while trying to attend the hearing.
Zetter reported another dramatic moment on Sunday, which reads like something out of A Few Good Men:
Proceedings in the court this morning continued in a contentious manner between defense attorney Coombs and the proceeding’s equivalent of a judge, Investigating Officer Capt. Paul Almanza. At one point, when the IO tried to stop a line of questioning with a witness, questioning the relevancy. Coombs abruptly walked to the defense table and grabbed a book containing Article 32 procedural rules and brandished it to Almanza.
“I would caution the investigating officer as to case law,” he said, adding that the defense should be given wide latitude in questioning to obtain evidence.
“The IO should not arbitrarily limit cross-examination, ” he said. “I am not going off into the ozone layer about this. . . I should be allowed to ask questions about what this witness saw so I can have this testimony under oath as part of discovery.”
Zetter reports that the defense is trying to show that the Army should have responded better to behavioral problems Manning exhibited early in his enlistment. He should have never been deployed, or he should have lost his security clearance earlier, “both of which would have made it impossible for him to obtain the documents he allegedly leaked to WikiLeaks.”
So which is it? Traitor or courageous hero? Should the government put him in jail and throw away the key, or throw him a parade?
Army Arrested Manning Based on Unconfirmed Chat Logs [Threat Level / Wired]
DADT activist Dan Choi barred from Bradley Manning hearing [Politico]
Request for Recusal Denied in Case Against Manning [Associated Press]
Christopher Danzig is a writer in Oakland, California. He covers legal technology and the West Coast for Above the Law. Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisdanzig or email him at cdanziggmail.com. You can read more of his work at chrisdanzig.com.
The Soldier Accused of Leaking Military Cables to WikiLeaks Is in Court Right Now « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law School, Law Suits, Judges and Courts
Unless you drowned yourself in a bathtub full of eggnog over the holidays, hopefully you are at least superficially aware of the Stop Online Piracy Act.
The House of Representatives is considering the bill, known as SOPA for short, that people fear will destroy the Internet as we know it.
Last week, Elie and I were “debating” the insidiousness of SOPA on Gchat. Our conversation went something like this:
Elie: SOPA is terrible.
Chris: It’s pretty much the worst thing ever.
Elie: It’s f***ing disastrous.
Elie and I aren’t the only ones upset. The Internet has whipped into a tizzy over the act. We mentioned it last week in Non-Sequiturs. And I wrote about it back in November. But the story has kept picking up speed. Reddit has gone mad over the bill. Just before the new year, a bunch of Biglaw firms got mistakenly dragged into the fray.
Keep reading for a primer on SOPA and its sister Senate bill, the Protect IP Act. And see why a bunch of Biglaw firms were unintentionally listed as supporters after the jump.…