Tomorrow wikipedia will be blacked out, we will not be able to access their articles and we will not be able to use this great resource for unbias encyclopedia for everything from history to current events, and from science to mathematics.
Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18 (you can read the statement from the Wikimedia Foundation here). The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate—that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.
This will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made. Here’s how it’s been described by the three Wikipedia administrators who formally facilitated the community’s discussion. From the public statement, signed by User:NuclearWarfare, User:Risker and User:Billinghurst:
- Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a “blackout” of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.
- On careful review of this discussion, the closing administrators note the broad-based support for action from Wikipedians around the world, not just from within the United States. The primary objection to a global blackout came from those who preferred that the blackout be limited to readers from the United States, with the rest of the world seeing a simple banner notice instead. We also noted that roughly 55% of those supporting a blackout preferred that it be a global one, with many pointing to concerns about similar legislation in other nations.
In making this decision, Wikipedians will be criticized for seeming to abandon neutrality to take a political position. That’s a real, legitimate issue. We want people to trust Wikipedia, not worry that it is trying to propagandize them.
- We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression. For the most part, Wikimedia projects are organizing and summarizing and collecting the world’s knowledge. We’re putting it in context, and showing people how to make to sense of it.
- But that knowledge has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process, it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikimedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or, if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.
Like Kat and the rest of the Wikimedia Foundation Board, I have increasingly begun to think of Wikipedia’s public voice, and the goodwill people have for Wikipedia, as a resource that wants to be used for the benefit of the public. Readers trust Wikipedia because they know that despite its faults, Wikipedia’s heart is in the right place. It’s not aiming to monetize their eyeballs or make them believe some particular thing, or sell them a product. Wikipedia has no hidden agenda: it just wants to be helpful.
That’s less true of other sites. Most are commercially motivated: their purpose is to make money. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a desire to make the world a better place—many do!—but it does mean that their positions and actions need to be understood in the context of conflicting interests.
My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA—and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States—don’t advance the interests of the general public. You can read a very good list of reasons to oppose SOPA and PIPA here, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The reality is that we don’t think SOPA is going away, and PIPA is still quite active. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the Internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA: they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone.
Similarly, I read warnings from Craigslist:
Corporate supporters of HR3261 (SOPA) and S968 (PIPA) demand the ability to take down any web site that affects their profits — without due process or judicial oversight — in the name of combating “online piracy.” Hoping you won’t notice or care, quite a few of our Public Servants want to give them that right.
Believe it or not, Monster Cable (remember “Monster Park”?) considers craigslist a “rogue site” for blacklisting and takedown under PIPA – apparently 2nd hand sales of stereo cables by CL users is reducing Monster’s sales of new cables. (reddit).
SOPA/PIPA authors and supporters insist they’re only after foreign piracy sites, but Internet Engineers understand this is an attempt to impose “Big Brother” control over our Internet, complete with DNS hijacking and censoring search results.
<RANT>What could be more anti-American than jack-booted thugs throttling our free speech, poisoning that greatest of American inventions, the Internet, while devastating perhaps our most successful and competitive industry? There’s got to be a better way to sell more stereo cables.</RANT>
- Reverse Robocall ALL pro-SOPA MOC + Key Lobbyists (Genius! More info on Ars Technica)
- Phone your Member of Congress via nifty Progressive Change app
- Contact Senators who are refusing to meet with constituents about SOPA/PIPA.
- EFF Congressional Emailer – Oppose Internet Blacklisting (SOPA & PIPA)
- ECA Congressional Emailer – Don’t Censor Our Internet!
- OpenCongress Congressional Emailer – Oppose SOPA
- Generic Congressional Emailer (You’ll need your Zip+4)
- Petition Congress – Protect Innovation, Dump SOPA (Progressive Change )
- Outside the US? Sign Petition Opposing US Censorship of Global Sites (EFF)
Supporters of SOPA: RIAA, MPAA, News Corp, TimeWarner, Walmart, Nike, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Sony, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, VISA, Mastercard, Comcast, ABC, Dow Chemical, Monster Cable, Teamsters, Rupert Murdoch, Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI)
Opponents of SOPA: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, AOL, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, Zynga, EFF, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX)
Congress needs to hear from you, or these dangerous bills will pass – they have tremendous lobbying dollars behind them, from corporations experts say are attempting to prop up outdated, anti-consumer business models at the expense of the very fabric of the Internet — recklessly unleashing a tsunami of take-down notices and litigation, and a Pandora’s jar of “chilling effects” and other unintended (or perhaps intended?) consequences.
There is still time to be heard. Congress is starting to backpedal on this job-killing, anti-American nonsense, and the Obama administration has weighed in against these bills as drafted, but SOPA/PIPA cannot be fixed or revised — they must be killed altogether.
Sen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep Ron Wyden (D-OR) are championing an alternative to SOPA/PIPA called Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) that addresses foreign sites dedicated to piracy, without disrupting basic Internet protocols, or threatening mainstream US sites like craigslist.
Personally, I use wikipedia to research pretty much everything. It is the single best peice of online software out there. No other place in history has held so much information in one place, accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world.
As for Craigslist, it is another great site, engineered through internet freedom, where you can do anything from trading cars, to advertising for events.
Even this site; wordpress; would be under attack under these bills, this site which we all use to read from, or write to. We would not be able to express our freedom of speech.
Please click on the following links to find out more about SOPA & PIPA
From the BBC:
From Digital Trends:
These bills are evil bills designed by evil men for special interests. One of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem in this country right now is special interests. Because of a few companies that seek to get the advantage over others, they would threaten the freedoms of all 300 million people in this country. The freedom of speech and expression is as large and as widespread as it has even been before, because of the internet, and it is so, because there are no laws and no government infringing upon those freedoms.
The strike starts tomorrow, be prepared, it will affect many sites.
If this site goes down, I hope to see you all on Thursday.
I woke up this morning to find that the internet is indeed on strike!
Here are a few of my favorite sites, all protesting, and one (wikipedia) not functioning at all. Their statement is a very important one; ‘Imagine a world without free knowledge’
What if none of our websites worked? What if all the top producers stopped showing up for work?
The looters of society, the special interest groups, the men who seek to make a quick buck by paralyzing their competition. These men do not understand that money is based upon value. Value is derived from producing. If we do not produce products of value, then money has no value. Eventually, there becomes no incentive to work anymore, and no incentive to produce, and so these quick buck lobbyists will loot their cash, and drain the blood of the hard workers and producers, until the workers die, or simply ‘shrug’.