Wikipedia is going black on Wednesday, January 18, to help fight the contentious Protect IP Act (PIPA), which is set to go for a vote before the Senate on January 24. The move, first reported by Neal Mann, digital news editor at Sky News, was announced by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the far-reaching online encyclopedia, on Twitter. Wales says the blackout was a “community decision.”
The blackout will only apply to English-language articles on Wikipedia — all 3,847,673 of them. It will run from 12am ET on Wednesday, through 11:59pm, says Wales, who estimates that as many as 100 million people will view the blocked protest pages.
Wales first proposed a blackout of the site in early December of last year, and asked the Wikipedia community for their input. According to a chart of the responses, created by hacker Shishir Bashyal, nearly 86.6 percent or respondents supported the move, while only 10.5 percent voice opposition to a Wikipedia blackout.
Wikipedia joins the likes of Reddit.com, BoingBoing.net, IHeartChaos.com, and the entire Cheezburger Network, among others, all of which will also be blacked out on Wednesday.
While now focused on PIPA, these planned blackouts were also originally intended to voice opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This past weekend, however, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told SOPA opponents in Congress that SOPA would not come up for a vote until consensus on the bill could be met. This follows a declaration from the White House that it would oppose any “legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet” — all of which SOPA and PIPA would do, according to critics of these bills.
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