Wikipedia ‘going dark’ in protest of SOPA

Free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, will shut down for 24 hours on Wednesday in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) before the US Congress, according to a tweet by founder Jimmy Wales.

SOPA, which is currently before the House of Representatives, has won the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the Business Software Alliance, the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Wikipedia is not the first online entity to protest the Act in the form of a blackout, earlier this week the news aggregation site, Reddit, also announced online it would shut down for 12 hours on January 18 in protest against SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act. WordPress, Mozilla, and all of the Cheezburger properties will take part in Wednesday’s “black out” protest.

In a statement the Wikimedia foundation said its decision to shut down was an “unprecedented” one.

The Wikipedia community has chosen to blackout the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours, in protest against proposed legislation in the United States — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and PROTECTIP (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States.

Last month, the founders of Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo! and other internet titans expressed concern over the legislation. In an open letter the group said the Act “gives the US government the power to censor the Web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran.”

“We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet,” they said. “Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.”

Wales said Wikipedia would go dark for a full 24 hours in English, saying: “Final details under consideration but consensus seems to be for ‘full’ rather than ‘soft’ blackout!”

On the hand, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, has called Wikipedia’s protest “foolish”.

Costolo’s comment was in response to a tweet by Radar correspondent Alex Howard inquiring whether Twitter’s Costolo, Google’s Eric Schmidt or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg would have the ‘cojones’ to follow in Wikipedia’s protesting footsteps.



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