If you have anything you want to look up on Wikipedia, you’d better do it today, or you’re going to have to wait a full 24 hours to get your answer. Why? Well, Wikipedia will be leading a number of high-profile websites going dark on Wednesday to protest two controversial bills in Congress. SOPA, also known as the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House of Representatives, and PIPA, the Protect I-P Act in the Senate, are designed to crack down on the illegal sharing of movies and music on the Web. However, critics say the anti-piracy legislation is censorship and would force sites to police the online world.
On Twitter, Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, confirmed that all of Wikipedia’s 3.8 million English-language articles will be unavailable from midnight Eastern time tonight until midnight Wednesday. Anyone who visits the site will be redirected to a banner that reads “The Internet must remain free.” Also joining Wikipedia in going black are Reddit, Minecraft, Craigslist, and Boing Boing, among others. Craigslist has posted a message at the top of its city homepages with a link to “help put a stop to this madness” of SOPA and PIPA.
The Obama administration, as well as Congress, seem to be listening to the critics. In a blog post, the White House said it would not support “legislation that reduces freedom of expression … or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said a vote would not come up for SOPA until a consensus is reached. By the way, if you’re a fan of any of the sites that are planning to participate in the blackout, don’t worry: You can still tweet about it as much as you want. Twitter will still be up and running. In fact, CEO Dick Costolo tweeted this about the sites choosing to go dark: “Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish.”
- PJM: SOPA and Protect-IP: A Line-by-Line Analysis of the Bills We Must Kill
- Mashable: Why SOPA Is Dangerous
- Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): Stealth tool to shut down political speech and the Counterjihad