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SOPA blackout: Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit to go dark tonight

January 17, 2012 | 12:56 pm
Wikipedia

What does an Internet strike look like? You're about to find out.

Wikipedia, Reddit, BoingBoing and hundreds of other websites have pledged to go dark Tuesday night to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) -- two anti-piracy bills that are currently making their way through Congress.

"This is an extraordinary action for our community to take," said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in a statement Monday announcing Wikipedia's decision to go dark. "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 -- the Web's fifth-most popular property with 470 million monthly users -- is the largest Web entity to declare its intent to go dark, but it joins many other websites that have already pledged to shut down for 12 to 24 hours to draw attention to legislation that they say will hasten the end of the free Internet.

Reddit was one of the trailblazers of the blackout movement, declaring its intent to go dark on Jan. 10. Two days later, Ben Huh, chief executive of Cheezburger, which has a network of 50 sites including the seminal ICanHasCheezburger as well as Fail Blog, Know Your Meme and the Daily What, said his sites would be joining the strike.

Blackouts are not the only types of protest you'll find online Wednesday. Google announced Tuesday that, while its search engine will continue to function, the company will place a link on its home page to highlight its opposition to the bills.

“Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and Web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” Samantha Smith, a Google spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday. “So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our U.S. home page.”

And Scribd, which claims to be the world's largest online repository of documents, said visitors to its website would find a pop-up roadblock Wednesday in protest of SOPA and PIPA that will lead to a call to action and an online petition. 

Craigslist started its protest early. A starred section at the top of the site urges users to "help put a stop to this madness" and links to a page dedicated to the topic.

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Where's my Wikipedia? SOPA, PIPA blackout coming

-- Deborah Netburn

Image: The Wikipedia home page.

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