English Wikipedia will go offline on Wednesday to protest against SOPA

 
 

Wikipedia, an online free-content encyclopedia, the largest self-organised and self-sustained collaboration system on the Internet, announced that the site will go down on January 18th for 24 hours to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, contemplated this idea earlier, but has had a final decision following the announcement that Reddit — the Web news and aggregation site — will black out its services in protest of online piracy bills on Janury 18th.

Jimmy Wales tweeted last night:

He also said that only the English version of the Wikipedia will be down, and it accounts for 25 million daily visitors according to comScore

The formal announcement from the Wikipedia press was stressed out that this is “..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. 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. Wikipedia administrators confirmed this decision Monday afternoon (PST) in a public statement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SOPA_initiative/Action#Summary_and_conclusion):

Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a “blackout” of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.

“Today Wikipedians from around the world have spoken about their opposition to this destructive legislation,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. “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.”

We urge Wikipedia readers to make your voices heard. If you live in the United States, find your elected representative in Washington (https://www.eff.org/sopacall). If you live outside the United States, contact your State Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs or similar branch of government. Tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA, and want the internet to remain open and free.

Today the Executive director of Wikipedia, Sue Garner, said in her official announcement to the public that the decision to shut down the English Wikipedia wasn’t made by her but “”it was made by editors, through a consensus decision-making process. But I support it.”

About the Wikimedia Foundation

http://wikimediafoundation.org, http://blog.wikimedia.org

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. According to comScore Media Metrix, Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 474 million unique visitors per month, making them the fifth-most popular web property world-wide (comScore, November 2011). Available in 282 languages, Wikipedia contains more than 20 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of more than 100,000 people. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants. (source: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/English_Wikipedia_to_go_dark)

Selected resources on SOPA and PIPA

Joi Ito, “Why we need to stop SOPA and PIPA”

Liz Dwyer, “Why SOPA Could Kill the Open Educational Resource Movement”,

Good Magazine Julian Sanchez, “SOPA: An Architecture for Censorship”, Cato Institute

Dan Rowinsky, “What You Need to Know about SOPA in 2012″,

ReadWriteWeb “Internet Blacklist Legislation”,

Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF’s email campaign against the legislation.

Danica is an internet researcher, consultant and speaker on social media and digital inclusion. Her academic research is rooted in her own practical experiences breaking down digital walls in central European society. She is Tech, and Research editor for Australian Science. Read more of her work at her blog, and follow her on twitter @DanicaR.

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