Assessing the Influence of Online Activism on Internet Policy-Making: The Case of SOPA/PIPA and ACTA

18 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2012 Last revised: 4 Jul 2014

See all articles by Alison Powell

Alison Powell

London School of Economics & Political Science; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: March 30, 2012

Abstract

This paper analyzes the influence of online activism, especially technical activist actions like web blackouts, on the policy-making process. It compares the actions associated with anti-SOPA campaigns in the United States with campaigns against ACTA in Europe. In order to investigate the various linked aspects of internet activism’s impact on policy change, this paper examines how online activism shifted the ways that these bills were covered by the popular press and how press coverage modeled new frames. In the United States, salient actions included suspended access to web sites including Wikipedia, symbolic actions such as 'black outs' of some website content, and mobilization efforts including invitations to contact elected representatives. For European advocates organizing against ACTA, this meant that some new frames for action were available in the early months of 2012. This analysis contributes to contemporary readings of ‘mediated opportunity structures’ by focusing on two new aspects: the mediatized nature of contemporary activism (especially ‘recursive’ activism that uses disruption of internet communications to draw attention to digital rights) and the significance for policy making of claims that the internet is ‘exceptional.’

This is a Slightly Revised Version of a Paper Presented at EUROCPR, Brussels, on March 21, 2013. Please Cite With This Information.

Suggested Citation

Powell, Alison, Assessing the Influence of Online Activism on Internet Policy-Making: The Case of SOPA/PIPA and ACTA (March 30, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2031561 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2031561

Alison Powell (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science ( email )

London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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