From Issue 135 March/April 2012
Boycott SOPA legislation
January saw huge online protests against proposed US laws that risk internet freedom.
Many spoke out against the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) legislation which would have allowed US corporations to close any site that linked to, or even mentioned, file sharing. Many sites joined the protest and, most notably, Wikipedia shut down for the day.
A new Android app was also launched to help people boycott brands that supported the legislation. The free Boycott SOPA app allows users to scans products’ labels to determine whether they are made by or associated with a SOPA-supporting brand. A big red cross appears by the brand name if it is one of the 873 SOPA-supporting brands.
The app’s boycott list includes subsidiaries and parent companies of supporting brands. Coca-Cola, for instance, made the list through SOPA-supporter L’Oreal, which is owned in part by Coke’s Nestea partner, Nestle. The app got off to a fantastic start with 5,000 users scanning more than 15,000 items in the first few days. The app’s creators, two college students Chris Thompson and Chris Doranti, who compiled the boycott list from media reports and Reddit links, hope to make a version that would also identify items in other boycotts.
Egypt mobile phone boycott
Also in January, several Egyptian activists called for a boycott of mobile phone operators on the anniversary of the day mobile phone networks were disabled during last year’s revolution.
On January 28th, the regime of President Hosni Mubarak ordered mobile phone operators to cut off mobile and internet services at the peak of the anti-government demonstrations. At least 800 people were killed during the 18 days of protests that toppled Mubarak, and more than 6,000 were wounded by live ammunition, rubber bullets, water cannons and batons. This year activists asked people to turn off their mobile phones in remembrance of those who were killed. Two Facebook pages attracted thousands of signups from around the world.
Telecoms operator Vodafone has said it and two other mobile operators had no option legally but to comply with an order from the authorities to suspend services in selected areas of the country.
In May an Egyptian court found that the three mobile phone operators in Egypt were not responsible for the suspension of the service, instead fining Mubarak and two former officials £56 million for ordering the cut off.
Dump dairy to save badgers
Animal rights campaign group Viva! are calling for a boycott of English dairy products following the Government’s announcement in December that it was authorising two pilot ‘culls’ of badgers in England. The culls will probably be in the South West and will probably take place after August 2012.
Actor and Viva! patron Martin Shaw said: “I support any move to show that badgers have been unfairly scapegoated by the Government and the dairy industry. That is why I support Viva!’s call to boycott English dairy products. By pointing the finger of blame at wildlife, the farming unions and politicians are attempting to sidestep a mess of their own making. Namely a highly-intensified dairy industry, scandalously bad testing regimes, fraud and mass cattle movements across the country. We mustn’t forget that these are the real reasons for the TB crisis. Yet the humble badger will soon be in the crosshairs; a victim of political backslapping and unfounded hysteria – and that is nothing short of a scandal.”
Politicians have already expressed fears of a national dairy boycott. The Farmers Guardian recently reported: “Shadow Defra Minister Jamie (Reed) said the farming industry needed to be wary of the sort of public pressure that led to the closure of News of the World. “We must avoid situations that encourage the kind of dairy product boycott now being seriously talked about as a possible consequence of a ‘free shoot’ policy,” he said.
Further legal challenges are expected to be launched against the cull plans by groups backing the badger. It is also feared that the pilot culls could be followed by widespread targeting of badgers over areas of the country larger than Devon and Cornwall combined – and might lead to the destruction of over a third of the English badger population.
Sign the online petition and join the boycott at www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers.