Wikipedia in piracy row blackout

 

Wikipedia blacked out the English language version of its website today in protest at anti-piracy laws being considered by the US government.

Users attemping to access the site were met with a black screen and the statement: "Imagine a world without free knowledge."

The website, which shut down at 5am British time, will go dark for 24 hours, the foundation behind the popular community-based online encyclopaedia said, in an unprecedented move that brings added muscle to a growing base of critics of the legislation.

Wikipedia is considered one of the internet's most popular websites, with millions of visitors daily.

"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," the Wikimedia foundation said.

The Stop Online Piracy Act in the US House of Representatives and the Protect Intellectual Property Act under consideration in the Senate are designed to crack down on sales of pirated US products overseas.

Supporters include the film and music industry, which often sees its products sold illegally. They say the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property and jobs.

Critics say the laws could hurt the technology industry and infringe free-speech rights. Among their concerns are provisions that would weaken cyber-security for companies and hinder domain access rights.

The most controversial provision is in the House bill, which would have enabled authorities to "blacklist" sites that are alleged to distribute pirated content. That would essentially cut off portions of the internet to all US users. But congressional leaders appear to be backing off from this provision.

Tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay, AOL and others have spoken out against the legislation and say it threatens the industry's livelihood.

Several online communities such as Reddit, Boing Boing and others have announced plans to go dark in protest as well.

The Obama administration also raised concerns about the legislation over the weekend and said it would work with Congress on laws to help battle piracy and counterfeiting while defending free expression, privacy, security and innovation on the internet.

Wikipedia's decision to go dark brings the issue into a much brighter spotlight. A group of Wikipedia users have discussed for more than a month whether it should react to the legislation.

Over the past few days, a group of more than 1,800 volunteers who work on the site and other users considered several forms of online protest, including banner ads and a global blackout of the site, the foundation said. Ultimately, the group supported the decision to black out the English version of the site.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia who first announced the move on his Twitter account on Monday, said the bills were a threat to the free, open, and secure web.

"The whole thing is just a poorly designed mess," he said.

Wikipedia is also requesting that readers contact members of Congress about the bill during the blackout.

"I am personally asking everyone who cares about freedom and openness on the internet to contact their senators and representative," Mr Wales said.

"One of the things we have learned recently during the Arab Spring events is that the internet is a powerfully effective tool for the public to organise and have their voices heard."

This is the first time Wikipedia's English version has gone dark. Its Italian site came down once briefly in protest to an internet censorship bill put forward by the Berlusconi government; the bill did not advance.

"Wikipedia is about being open," said Jay Walsh, spokesman for the Wikimedia foundation. "We are not about shutting down and protesting. It's not a muscle that is normally flexed."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
News
A speech made by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister urging women not to laugh in public in order to preserve morality has sparked a backlash on social media from women posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at his remarks.
GALLERYWhy are Turkish women having a chuckle at the government's expense?
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SAP FICO SOLUTION ANALYST

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP FICO SOLUTI...

    Data Analyst

    £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

    SAP PROJECT MANAGER

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MAN...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

    £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star