Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia begins blackout in protest against US anti-piracy laws

Wikipedia has taken its English-language content offline as part of a "day of darkness" in protest at US anti-piracy laws that it says could "fatally damage the free and open internet" and "severely limit people's access to online information".

As of 5am on Tuesday, anyone trying to access the online encyclopedia will have been greeted with a blackened screen and a message exhorting them to "imagine a world without free knowledge".

"For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history," reads the message, adding that the website will still be available on smartphones and mobile devices. "Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia."

The legislation that has prompted Wikipedia - along with other sites such as the blog Boing Boing and user-generated news site Reddit, which will go down at 8am EST – to take such drastic action is the House of Representatives bill to stop online piracy - known as Sopa - and its Senate equivalent, the protect intellectual property act known as Pipa.

The bills, which have been hailed by the media, film and music industries as a big step towards helping the fight against piracy, have been denounced by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, as "destructive legislation" that would "set a frightening precedent of internet censorship". Read More