One of the most visited websites in the world, Wikipedia, will close off the English version of its site tomorrow for a full day to protest two pieces of legislation under consideration by Congress.
Want to know when Bucharest became the capital of Romania? How about the history of the Duty Free shop? Take a stroll down memory lane and revisit the Super Bowl “Nipplegate” controversy involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake? Whether your interest lay with Bucharest, Miss Jackson’s boob, or one of the other 20 million articles that Wikipedia produces, the readily-accessible, highly-used mainstay of the Internet will be unavailable to slake your curiosity tomorrow. Instead, you’ll have to dust off your grandfather’s Encyclopedia Britannica, because for a full 24 hours, Wikipedia will not exist.
In a press release issued yesterday, Wikipedia stated that “the Wikipedia community has chosen to blackout the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours, in protest against proposed legislation in the United States — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and PROTECTIP (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate.” Wikipedia averages 15 million unique visitors per day.
The release went on to say that “if passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States.”
Owners of film, music, and television are among those that support the proposed pieces of legislation. Many others, in turn, oppose the legislative proposals along with Wikipedia, including Google, Twitter, Facebook, eBay, among others.
“Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, in the Monday press release. “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.”
photo by @bastique