Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Per Cent - Wikipedia to shut for 24 hours over US anti-piracy laws

Jacob Aron, technology reporter
(Image: Roland Kemp/Rex Features)

Wikipedia, the sixth-most visited website on the internet, is planning a major shutdown to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two proposed laws aimed at halting online piracy that critics say could seriously harm the internet.
From 5am GMT tomorrow, the English language version of the online encyclopaedia will be replaced by a single black page asking visitors to contact US politicians and express their opposition to the proposed laws. The decision to shutdown the site was reached in typical Wikipedia fashion, with users discussing the pros and cons before eventually agreeing to go ahead with the protest.
The community rushed to reach a consensus so that the protest could coincide with other website blackouts, including social news site Reddit and news blog Boing Boing, set for 18 January, the same day as a planned SOPA hearing in the US Congress.
That hearing has now been postponed following criticism of the legislation from the White House, but Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says the protest will still go ahead. "Unclear that SOPA is really dead, but messaging will target the reality on the ground on Wednesday," he said on Twitter, later adding that PIPA, which is still due to be debated by the US Senate, remains "a live threat".
Not all Wikipedians support the protest, however. Some have complained about the speed at which the decision was reached, while others questioned the need for an international blackout to protest US legislation.
Other websites wanting to join the protest can now use an app created by CloudFlare, the web security service previously used by LulzSec to protect its website from attacks. CloudFlare users can activate the Stop Censorship app to automatically black out words longer than five characters and ask visitors to protest the new laws.


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