- Wikipedia back online at 5am today after 24 hour blackout
- 18 senators withdraw support for controversial bills
- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg opposes censorship law
- And says internet is ‘powerful tool for creating open and connected world’
- 7,000 sites across the net joined protest
- Founder Jimmy Wales calls the strike an ‘extraordinary action’
- Hollywood movie moguls stop donations for Obama re-election campaign
- Studio chiefs’ move in protest against his ‘lack of support’ for the two bills
- Twitter exposes ‘morons’ who didn’t know why Wikipedia was shut down
U.S. Senators have publicly withdrawn support for the two controversial anti-piracy bills that prompted Wikipedia and thousands of other websites to shut down for 24 hours.
A total of 18 representatives said they no longer approved of the SOPA and PIPA bills that critics say would allow U.S. Congress to implement draconian laws to police the internet and combat piracy.
It means yesterday’s protest, supported by Google and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg, has had a startling effect, with one of the Senators who initially sponsored the bill now backing down.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who co-sponsored the controversial ‘Protect IP’ – PIPA bill, urged for more caution.
He said: ‘Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.’
On a normal day, 100 million web users would use Wikipedia, wanting to know everything from the height of Mount Kilimanjaro to the birth date of Charles Dickens.
But yesterday they were met with a message which began: ‘Imagine a world without free knowledge.’
Gagged: Google ruled out the possibility of blacking itself out itself but they changed their home page to show a black patch covering its logo- to show its support for the campaign
Following the 24-hour blackout the website went back online at 5am this morning.
Wikipedia, Google and many others, including eBay, Facebook and Twitter, are challenging the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act, which are being taken through the U.S. Congress.
SITES WHICH WERE BLACKED OUT IN PROTEST
Wikipedia went ‘dark’ at 5am GMT (midnight EST) to protest against the bill.
Google did not switch off its service, but hosted a black patch on its U.S. site, and a message urging U.S. lawmakers not to ‘censor the internet’.
Small-ads site Craigslist also hosted a message to ‘Corporate paymasters,’ saying ‘keep those clammy hands off the Internet.’
High-profile blog BoingBoing took part in the protest.
Social site Reddit went dark for 12 hours.
Browser maker Mozilla went dark briefly and hosted anti-SOPA content, directing Firefox users to a new anti-SOPA homepage.
WordPress.org, the website for the popular open-source blogging software, replaced its usual homepage with a call for action against the laws.
Twitpic hosted a black band across its logo, which read: ‘Stop censorship’.
The Oatmeal posted a drawing of a koala bear with the caption ‘Orwellian b******* makes me sad’
MIT Admissions had a black homepage and the comment: ‘This is what MITAdmissions.org could look like under SOPA/PIPA. Keep the web open.’
O’Reilly Media, Wired, Fark.com, Flickr,Pressthink.org, Failblog, Moveon.org, Ars Technicaalso joined in.
But Twitter did not – its CEO saying that applying single-nation politics to a worldwide service was ‘foolish’.
Wikipedia today sported a ‘thank you’ banner at the top of its page, with organisers claiming more than 162 million people had seen the blackout.
So many people logged on to the websites of Senators that several crashed.
A message on the site said: ‘The Wikipedia blackout is over – and you have spoken.
‘More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no.
‘You shut down Congress’s switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news.
‘Millions of people have spoken in defence of a free and open Internet.
‘For us, this is not about money. It’s about knowledge. As a community of authors, editors, photographers, and programmers, we invite everyone to share and build upon our work.
‘Our mission is to empower and engage people to document the sum of all human knowledge, and to make it available to all humanity, in perpetuity. We care passionately about the rights of authors, because we are authors.
‘SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows. What’s happened in the last 24 hours, though, is extraordinary.
‘The internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine, and as Wikipedia went dark, you’ve directed your energy to protecting it.
‘We’re turning the lights back on. Help us keep them shining brightly.’
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who tweeted for the first time in three years over the issue, wrote that he was backing the protest.
And he described the internet as ‘the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world’.
He also wrote on his Facebook wall that his company are against the censorship law – and urged Americans to further lobby Congressmen about the issue.
He said: ‘The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world.
Black out: Wikipedia shut down its English-language site yesterday in protest at draconian plans to police the internet and combat piracy
‘We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet’s development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet.
WHAT ARE THE SOPA AND PIPA ANTI-PIRACY ACTS?
The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in Congress – designed to crack down on sales of pirated U.S. products overseas – has pit internet giants, consumer groups and freedom of speech advocates against film studios and record labels.
The House bill (SOPA) would allow a private party to go straight to a website’s advertising and payment providers and request they sever ties.
Supporters include the film and music industry, which often sees its products sold illegally.
They say the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property and jobs.
Critics say the legislation could hurt the technology industry and infringe on free-speech rights.
Among their concerns are provisions that would weaken cyber-security for companies and hinder domain access rights.
The most controversial provision is in the House bill, which would have enabled federal authorities to ‘blacklist’ sites that are alleged to distribute pirated content.
That would essentially cut off portions of the Internet to all U.S. users. But congressional leaders appear to be backing off this provision.
‘The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals.
‘I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-internet.’
The measures are designed to stop pirates around the world from making music, films, TV programmes and eBooks available online free of charge.
But critics argue they go much further and amount to an attempt to control and censor the internet.
Wikipedia has become an essential tool of office life and for school and university students trying to complete assignments.
Without it, people turned to alternative sources, particularly newspaper websites.
Specialist education websites such as FactMonster and Kids.Britannica.com also saw an upward blip in traffic.
Lesser-known rivals to Wikipedia, such as Encyclopedia.com, also benefited.
An estimated 7,000 smaller websites either joined in the blackout for the day or posted some kind of protest at the proposed legislation.
Google backed the protest with a symbolic black banner over its logo on its U.S. home page, although its search services were still usable.
But, in reality, the Wikipedia blackout was not as all-encompassing as it first appeared.
It was possible to access Wikipedia’s pages using smartphones, such as the iPhone or BlackBerry, and web experts posted simple details of how to get around the blackout page.
Wikipedia, which is non-profit-making, is the largest online encyclopaedia in the world with 20million pages, and insists its protest was driven by a desire to protect freedom of expression on the internet.
The protest was led by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales who is setting up home in London with his fiancée, Kate Garvey, a former adviser to Tony Blair.
Visitors to the Wikipedia website yesterday were met with the message: ‘The U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet.
‘For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.’
HOLLYWOOD PULLS PLUG ON OBAMA DONATIONS
Hollywood movie moguls are to stop donating to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign – in protest against his ‘lack of support’ for the two bills.
Studio bosses told deadline.com they felt ‘let down’ with the stance taken by three of his top officials who posted their concerns about the proposals on the White House website.
Intellectual property enforcement co-ordinator Victoria Espinel, U.S. chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra, and special assistant to the President Howard Schmidt signed the post.
They said they would ‘not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.’
Hollywood bosses, who back the bills as they bid to crackdown on film piracy, reportedly took this as a ‘declaration of war’ against the bills.
One studio chief told the website: ‘God knows how much money we’ve given to Obama and the Democrats and yet they’re not supporting our interests.
‘There’s been no greater supporters of him than we’ve been from the first day and the first fundraisers continuing until he was elected. We all were pleased. And, at its heart institutionally, Hollywood supports the Democrats. Now we need the administration to support us. This is a very important time for Hollywood.
‘The issue at hand – piracy – is a legitimate concern. But Google and those Internet guys have been swiftboating the entertainment industry by saying we’re trying to shut down the internet just because we don’t want them to advertise pirated movies. As for other claims, we make 24. We don’t make national security problems.’
The willingness of the U.S. authorities to pursue people around the globe for breaking its internet laws was demonstrated only last week, when the British courts agreed to the extradition of student Richard O’Dwyer, 23.
He could be jailed for ten years in America for setting up his TVShack website, which provided links to pirate downloads of films and TV programmes.
U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a sponsor of the legislation, dismissed the protesters and accused them of misrepresenting his anti-piracy measures.
He said: ‘This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts.’
TWITTER REVEALS ‘MORONS CONFUSED BY WIKIPEDIA’S BLACKOUT’
A Twitter account to ‘follow all the morons confused by Wikipedia’s blackout’ was set up at the height of the action.
@herpderpedia re-tweeted a total of 414 hilarious comments to show people ‘wading through the eternal derpness of the 24 hour Wikipedia SOPA blackout’.
Logan Deckard wrote: ‘I CANT USE WIKIPEDIA. This is b*******, someone call whoever this soap guy is and tell him to stop being an ***.
@xMOOFLES posted: ‘WIKIPEDIA IS BLACKED OUT AND I HAVE HOMEWORK. F*** MY *** *** LIFE.’
And Joy Haynes, also known as @veeejh, asked: ‘Who shuts down wikipedia before exams? #purestupidity’