New York, Jan 18: Internet users will not be able to access community-edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia for 24 hours from Wednesday as the administrators of the site decided to blackout the English version of it for a day to obtain support against the proposed US anti-piracy legislation. The administrators of the popular website confirmed their decision on Monday afternoon in a public statement.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that operates Wikipedia, said in a statement: "On January 18, 2012, in an unprecedented decision, 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." The organization said if the proposed legislation are passed then it will 'harm the free and open Internet' and bring about new 'tools for censorship' of international websites inside the United States.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) under consideration in the US House of Representatives targets to reduce the online sales of pirated US products abroad. Over 1800 Wikipedians discussed on the proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA and came out with the decision to blackout the site for 24 hours. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales reportedly criticised the proposed legislation and said that it would endanger the future of internet. "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," he added. Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director said in a statement: "The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate—that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia."
Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites in the world and millions of users access it every day. Internet giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter and eBay have reportedly expressed their discontents over the proposed legislation. Users of Wikipedia on Tuesday can find a message on the top half of the site stating that the English version of it will black out for 24 hours to protest against SOPA and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act).