Wikipedia may black out Wednesday in protest
Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 7:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 7:24 p.m.
Wikipedia may black out its website Wednesday to protest anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced on Twitter Monday that the popular community-based online encyclopedia will shut down its English versions for 24 hours in protest. Users of the site have discussed for more than a month whether it should react to the legislation and in the past few days, tried to decide how.
The foundation behind the site, Wikimedia, says it is still collecting input from users and expects to make its final decision later Monday evening on the details of the protest based on that feedback. However, a large-scale blackout is expected at this time.
“We are looking at a powerful protest,” said Jay Walsh, spokesman for the foundation.
The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act pending in Congress are designed to crack down on sales of pirated U.S. products overseas.
Supporters say the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property and jobs. Critics say the legislation could hurt the technology industry and infringe on free-speech rights.
Tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others have questioned the legislation and said it poses a serious risk to the industry. Several online communities such as Reddit, Boing Boing and others have announced plans to go dark in protest.
Wikipedia is considering several different forms of response, from a banner across the top of the page to a black out in certain areas, up to a worldwide shutdown, Walsh said. If Wikipedia opts to black out, it would be the largest and most well-known website to do so.
“It's not a muscle that is normally flexed,” Walsh said.
The Obama administration has also raised concerns about the legislation and said over the weekend that it will work with Congress on legislation to help battle piracy and counterfeiting while defending free expression, privacy, security and innovation in the Internet.