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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wikipedia Founder Will Fight SOPA


Jimmy Wales, a Wikipedia founder, has joined activist groups on the Internet in order to quash the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). He is currently threatening to kill the English language version of his encyclopedia in retaliation. Jimmy Wales announced through the service Wikipedia that it is really a huge deal to do something like that, and this would be unprecedented for English Wikipedia.

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However, it won't be the first time the encyclopedia protests against the government. Jimmy Wales himself has proudly declared that the same situation in Italy resulted in blanking the Italian language version, announcing that the Italian Parliament backed down immediately. Even considering this, the SOPA legislation is even more contentious. A lot of online companies and organizations are now up in arms at measures pushing for harsh and absurd legislation on appeasing the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, its biggest critics claim that it will stifle the free nature of the web itself.

At the moment, a strike hasn't been declared, but Wikipedia founder referred to the threat in question as a “straw poll” instead of an outright promise. It seems that he is trying to arm himself with a groundswell of public opinion before a meeting at the Whitehouse. However, it’s unclear if Jimmy Wales would prevent access just within the United States or if the entire website will take the plunge. He only mentioned that a global strike of at least the English version of the encyclopedia would put the maximum pressure on the country’s government.

Thus far, there have been a lot of calls from people opposing the suggested legislation to help urge the government to vote against it. For example, activist group called Demand Progress has called for online companies to join to fight the bill, with 70 organizations having signed up so far. The group also backed a bid by Senator Wyden to read out the names of all people against the legislation in Congress in order to emphasize the widespread anger at the suggested law. It has called on netizens to contact the government by visiting America Censorship. David Segal, Director at the activist group, stressed the effect online encyclopedia would have in opposing the legislation as strongly as Jimmy Wales wants it to. He is still concerned that Wikipedia would face an existential threat if the proposed bill becomes law – in other words, they would have a tremendous impact if they were to go black now.

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