As has been mentioned in articles and podcasts on this site, two bills are currently working their way through the US congress. They are the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect-IP Act (Pipa). In a protest against these acts which are seens as being a screen for much darker motives, Wkipedia are to suspend all activity for 24 hours on Wednesday 18th January 2012.
Here is some text the article from today's Metro newspaper:
Founder Jimmy Wales announced on Twitter the free encyclopaedia’s English website would be joining a day-long ‘blackout’, affecting UK internet users.
Students and trivia hunters will instead be greeted with a protest message expected to include contacts for members of congress, which Mr Wales hopes ‘will melt phone systems in Washington’.
The online action is a protest against two laws going through congress in the US – the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and its sister bill, the Protect-IP Act (Pipa).
If passed, they would allow copyright holders and American justice officials to close websites considered to be giving illegal access to copyrighted or ‘pirated’ material such as movies or music.
The bills have strong support from the entertainment industry – but have also seen widespread criticism, suggesting they violate the right to free speech and amount to censorship. Mr Wales said on Twitter: ‘It is a decision of the Wikipedia community. I’m proud to be able in some small way to have a leadership role against censorship.’
Internet users reacted to the news on Twitter, with user Behzod Sirjani tweeting: ‘Wednesday will be a dark day for the web.’ And Max Groves joked: ‘How am I supposed to get inaccurate information now?’
Mr Wales has previously threatened to suspend the service indefinitely in the US if the bills are passed.
The blackout will affect only the English-language version, which has 25million hits a day.
It comes after the US government confirmed the Sopa bill would not be passed without changes, saying efforts to stop online piracy ‘must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity’.
But critics, such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said Barack Obama had ‘thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters'