Wikipedia mulls censorship protest

Last month we reported on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill being considered by US Congress that will allow an unprecedented level of internet censorship under US law. If it passes, SOPA has the potential to impact on the web worldwide. A number of companies have protested against the bill, several of which wrote an open letter that was subsequently co-signed by AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga.

As reported by TorrentFreak, Wikipedia is considering the most audacious protest yet, blanking out all of its pages. The article reports that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has asked for community input; additionally, he "fears the bill could seriously hurt the Internet and thinks that blanking out Wikipedia will send a strong message to lawmakers".

The idea isn't without precedent. The Italian Wikipedia recently blanked its site in protest of "a law which would infringe on their editorial independence," said Wales. "As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of 'Stop Online Piracy Act' is working its way through [the Senate] on a bit of a fast track."

Unsurprisingly, the responses to Wales have been varied, with some supporting the idea, a few arguing Wikipedia isn't the right place for any kind of political protest, and others fighting for an alternative approach that would impact less on users (but, presumably, also make less of a point), such as speaking to politicians directly. "But we don't have a lot of time," responded Wales to that particular suggestion. "They are trying to ram this through very quickly."

Americans against SOPA can visit the Stop American Censorship website and contact their representatives.

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