Wikipedia has joined a growing list of websites hosting a blackout on Wednesday 18th January, in protest of the US government's bid to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The bill will give more powers to content owners and the US Government to shut down sites associated with content stealing and piracy.
The decision to shut down the English Wikipedia wasn't made by me; it was made by editors, through a consensus decision-making process. But I support it.Sue Gardner, (Executive Director) Wikimedia Foundation
If passed, the bill will affect many large US based sites such as Google and Yahoo, who will need to remove foreign infringing content from their search results. It will also mean US businesses trading in the UK and elsewhere in the world will have new restrictions and while it may seem far removed from our little corner of the world, some trending experts are taking this as a sign of things to come for other governments keen on gaining more control over content produced in their own countries.
Of course, in Europe, a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice ruled that Internet Service Providers ISPs could not carry out general monitoring of the the information on their network to allow blocking of certain sites. The proposals in the US would allow companies to seek a court order which would force ISPs to then introduce blocking of sites to their users. The implementation of this could also end up filtering these sites to users in other countries if the traffic goes through one of these US based networks.
Many websites will be taking part in the protest, criticised by some for not having any direction.
"That's just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish."Dick Costolo, (CEO) Twitter