WIKIPEDIA IS TO join a number of popular websites such as Reddit in blocking out its English site on Wednesday in protest over proposed US legislation regarding internet content accessible in the United States.
Under the Stop Online Piracy Act, the US government and content copyright owners would be able to shut down websites and bar search engines from linking to the sites.
Wikipedia had earlier voiced its concerns over the legislation known as ‘SOPA’, saying that while it is committed against copyright violations, the legislation “represents the flawed position that censorship is an acceptable tool to protect rights owners’ private interests in particular media”.
Despite recent amendments to the bill, the website said it believed it still posed a serious threat to the freedom of expression online. “We cannot battle, however, one wrong while inflicting another,” Wikipedia said on its blog. It has since announced it will be blacking out its English site globally to protest SOPA and the corresponding Senate bill PIPA.
The future of the bill is currently uncertain as SOPA opponent Congressman Darrell Issa said he had been given an indication that there would be no vote on the bill as planned unless there was consensus on it, according to the Guardian.
Issa’s comments come after the White House voiced strong criticism of the legislation at the weekend, saying that although online piracy is a serious problem, efforts to tackle piracy must not impinge upon lawful online activity. In a statement, the White House said: “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.