The Black March boycott is Anonymous' newest operation, under which participants will boycott media for the entire month of march in order to fight back against ACTA, SOPA and other threats to Internet freedom and privacy.
Lasting the entire month, the Black March boycott is a coordinated effort by various factions of the Internet that have aligned against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act, Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act and other such measures, and is being headed off by the Anonymous hacktivist collective.
Also known as Operation Black March and the Twitter hashtags #OpBlackMarch and #OpDontBuy, the boycott is the latest in a series of grassroots protests that have been arranged in order to allow people from across the world to come together and voice their opposition to ACTA and provisions within the treaty that threaten to limit Internet freedom, impose a new censorship regime, and quash online innovation.
An online flier announcing the boycott plan and its intentions was released earlier this month by Anonymous affiliates, and distributed over the past couple of weeks in order to spread word about the Operation Black March boycott.
It declares that the message of the boycott is as follows: Copyrighted media won't be allowed while Internet is being censored, then goes into a longer discussion of its goals, and how people can participate in the act of civil disobedience:
Why? Due to the continuous campaigns and litigations concerning Internet Censorship such as SOPA, PIPA and ACTA [and] the closure of sites such as Megaupload under the charges of 'Piracy' and 'Conspiration' we MUST take actions against Film, Music, Book and Magazine Companies and other media companies, the flier reads. How? Don't buy any magazine, newspaper, DON'T download ANY song [Legally or illegally] DON'T watch any movie at the cinema, DON'T buy ANY DVD or videogame and DON'T buy any book. It doesn't matter how much do you want, wait until April. Let's give all the governments an economic hit that can be visible.
The flier is black with stark white writing, and it features a watermark bearing an Anonymous insignia in the bottom-right corner, lending the whole page an imposing look and sense of urgency.
And on a Website made specifically for the Black March boycott, an even clearer call to action is laid out:
With the continuing campaigns for Internet-censoring litigation such as ACTA, SOPA and PIPA, and the closure of sites such as Megaupload under allegations of 'piracy' and 'conspiracy', the time has come to take a stand against music, film and media companies' lobbyists, the site reads. The only way to hit them where it truly hurts... Their profit margins. Do not buy a single record. Do not download a single song, legally or illegally. Do not go to see a single film in cinemas, or download a copy. Do not buy a DVD in the stores. Do not buy a videogame. Do not buy a single book or magazine.
The Black March boycott comes on the heels of a series of protests aimed at stopping SOPA, PIPA and ACTA, which have had varying degrees of success. In January a coordinated anti-SOPA internet blackout led to the bill being shelved last week by the U.S. Congress. And world leaders have come under increasing pressure to stop ACTA from becoming the law of the land in June.
ACTA would set up an international legal framework to deal with issues of counterfeiting, piracy and other crimes. Instead of dealing with national laws regarding these issues, these nations would be able to adjudicate alleged crimes in a new governing body that would exist outside of the purview of the United Nations and other international institutions.
That scope is one of the main concerns of its opponents, who worry that ACTA would create a new regime of Internet censorship and criminalization of commonplace online activities. So anti-ACTA protesters have taken to the streets and the Web to voice their concerns, which appear to be gaining some traction with international leaders tasked with negotiating the treaty, which its supporters hope to have in place by June.
The Operation Black March boycott promises to be yet another source of pressure on the world's leaders to rethink their approach the Internet, and its impacts will be interesting to follow as its full scope is realized.
And the operation seems to be poised for succes, as Twitter users are expressing their support for the boycott in droves. As @kittylight wrote in a Wendesday tweet: Are you ready for #OpDontBuy #opblackmarch ? I am joyfully boycotting #hollywood2012 I havent been to a theater since last summer!! #1%