Wikipedia have announced that they are to “blackout” their immensely popular web encyclopedia on January 18th in protest against proposed anti-piracy acts in the US.
After 72 hours of discussions between 1800 Wikipedia members, the decision to fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) with an unprecedented period of intentional downtime was confirmed.
Though SOPA is now thought to be beaten (with the White House pulling support for the bill), the Wikipedia community still fear the potential dangers of the PIPA bill, which could lead to widespread, damaging censorship on the net.
While online piracy is a major problem on the web, costing the creative industries in particular dearly (as well as software developers), many see the proposed bills as too heavy-handed in the almost-blanket like approach to censorship.
“PIPA is still extremely dangerous,” said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia co-founder.
“Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation. This is an extraordinary action for our community to take – and while we regret having to prevent the world from having access to Wikipedia for even a second, we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the United States and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of Internet censorship for the world.”
The Wikipedia blackout will begin 5AM GMT on Wednesday 18th January until 5AM GMT on Thursday 19th January.