We’ve been covering the possibility of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) passing in the United States and the huge backlash its getting from some of the world’s largest tech-companies including, but definitely not limited to : Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tumblr, Twitter, Yahoo and Wikipedia.
These websites claim that the anti-piracy initiatives of SOPA would seriously change the internet as we know it and that it could have potentially dangerous effects on how we use the internet. Supporters of the bill are mainly companies that have trademarks or copyrights that they could better enforce with the passing of SOPA, but its measures are truly “draconian” as Google Executive Eric Schmidt put it. It would allow for the actual websites that have the infringed content, regardless of who’s posting it, to be taken down as a measure to protect their intellectual property; talk about a free, open-internet.
Wikipedia Among Companies Protesting Internet-Censorship Bill SOPA
Anyways, Jimmy Wales the founder of one of the most visited websites around the world, Wikipedia, is considering blanking out all the pages to their online encyclopedia in an attempt to get visitors to consider the potential repercussions SOPA could have on the way they browse the internet. A world without Wikipedia would be a very, very strange place for most internet users and Wales is trying to get that message across to the world. Not only is Wales targeting regular users, but lawmakers who are surely going to get a huge influx of calls and emails after their constituents are faced with the awareness the deliberate censorship would bring.
This week, the Senate’s House Judiciary Committee will be voting on the SOPA and Wales asked the Wikipedia community for some input with regards to the idea of a ‘self-censorship’ campaign after seeing how successful the Italian Wikipedia was after running a similar campaign in protest to an Italian internet bill. The community is said to have been mostly positive in their feedback to Wales’ plan and only a small minority questioned whether Wikipedia was the appropriate place for a political message to be displayed.
In the blog, Wales wrote “A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately.” Wikipedia gets billions of page views a month and even a single day of censorship is sure to hit millions and millions of people that will likely get the attention of the media as well.