Is Protesting Online More Powerful?

Online outrage has pressured lawmakers and companies to change their minds

9 April 2012

Recent online protests have affected proposed legislation and fee hikes. After widespread outrage on the Internet and protests by Google, Reddit, Wikipedia, and other Web companies, U.S. lawmakers in January delayed a vote on the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act and scrapped the Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA. The controversial bills were aimed at curbing online piracy, but critics argued they could handicap the Internet by shutting down websites for suspected violations and, more importantly, would curtail freedom of expression.

Also in January, Verizon Wireless canceled a planned US $2 “convenience charge” for U.S. customers making one-time bill payments using a debit or credit card, either online or by telephone. That was after thousands of customers took to the Internet and signed a petition protesting what they considered to be an unfair charge for simply paying their bills.

In London, meanwhile, customers have been protesting on Twitter an annual price hike for rail fares. So far, the fares have not been rolled back.

Do citizens now have real power to influence government and company decisions by organizing opposition online?

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