Wikipedia and Google joined hundreds of other websites Wednesday in a sprawling online protest against legislation in the US Congress intended to crack down on Internet piracy.
Wikipedia shut down the English version of its online encyclopedia for 24 hours to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate version, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Google blotted out the celebrated logo on its US home page with a black banner and published an exhortation to users to “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the Web!”
Like Wikipedia, social news site reddit also went dark, urging visitors to call their lawmaker or sign a petition opposing the House and Senate bills.
“These bills provide overly broad mechanisms for enforcement of copyright which would restrict innovation and threaten the existence of websites with user-submitted content,” reddit said.
Culture and technology blog Boing Boing also took itself offline to protest what it called “legislation that would certainly kill us forever.”
Reporters Without Borders shut down its English-language website for 24 hours warning that the bills “would sacrifice online freedom of expression in the name of combating piracy.”
Blogging platform WordPress.com covered its home page with black banners with the word “censored” as did technology magazine Wired.
The popular Cheezburger humor network posted messages of opposition to the bills on all of its 58 sites, which include icanhascheezburger.com, FAIL Blog and The Daily What.
The draft legislation has won the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups.
The Business Software Alliance has welcomed House efforts to curb software piracy but has said “valid and important questions have been raised about the bill.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on PIPA on January 24 but Republican House speaker John Boehner said Wednesday there was a “lack of consensus at this point” on SOPA, the House version, and it would need work in committee.
The bills have come under fire from digital rights and free speech groups for allegedly paving the way for US authorities to shut down websites accused of online piracy, including foreign sites, without due process.