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The Wikimedia Foundation plans to take down the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours on Wednesday, January 18 to protest proposed legislation currently under review in Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, announced the news via Twitter, and the Wikimedia Foundation followed up with a formal press release Monday night.
“Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation,” said Wales. “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.”
English language Wikipedia will be unavailable from 12 AM EST on January 18 to 12 AM EST on January 19, according to a tweet from Wales. In its place, the Wikipedia home page will display information about SOPA and PIPA, and will urge people to contact their local government representatives about the proposed legislation. Wales estimates the blackout could reach over 100 million people.
Several other popular websites, including social news site Reddit and technology blog BoingBoing, plan similar blackouts on Wednesday to protest SOPA and PIPA. Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced that it would not support the proposed legislation.
SOPA and PIPA are widely — and often vehemently — opposed throughout most corners of the technology and web industries. There was widespread concern about both bills’ Domain Name System redirection provisions, which would pose serious cybersecurity risks by tampering with the internet’s infrastructure, but lawmakers opted to remove those provisions after enduring extensive criticism. Still, its detractors insist that, if passed, the bills would allow the government to blacklist and even eradicate websites without due process.
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UPDATE: The official blackout page is visible below. Click to learn more about Wikipedia's drastic action.