Wikipedia to black out: SOPA’s gone but PIPA is still ‘dangerous’

17 Jan 2012

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia will black out the English-language version of its online encyclopaedia from 5am tomorrow (18 January) to 5am on Thursday (19 January) to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), even though the controversial act was shelved yesterday.

While SOPA may be derailed, its twin, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), may still pass through the US Senate and many believe the threat to the internet in the form of censorship, stifling of innovation and damage to the internet’s underlying architecture still stands.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted that the protest will go ahead and he has the resounding support of the Wikipedia community.

Some 1,800 ‘ Wikipedians’ have joined together to discuss proposed actions the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. He said this is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. 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,” Wales said. “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.”

Wikipedia boasts some 100m users worldwide and the English-language version hosts close to 4m articles.

Tweeting last night, Wales said that while SOPA is crippled, “PIPA is still extremely dangerous.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years