English Wikipedia on protest today

Skopje, January 18, 2012 – Today the Macedonian visitors of Wikipedia in English are welcomed by a dark screen. The Wiki community decided to ‘black out’ the English language edition of Wikipedia in the following 24 hours in protest against the two proposed laws – the Stop Online Piracy Act – SOPA in the U.S. Congress and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. If these laws are enacted, this would be detrimental for the freedom and openness of the Internet and provide new tools for censorship of the international websites within the United States.

Wikipedia administrators confirmed this decision on Monday with a public statement.

During a period of 72 hours, more than 1800 Wikipedians from the U.S. and from the rest of the world discussed and suggested actions against the proposed laws. This is the highest level of participation in a joint discussion on Wikipedia so far, which best indicates Wikipedians’ concerns about the draft-laws. The vast majority of participants support the joint action in order to alert the public about these two bills. The proposal that received the greatest support was the one for the blackout of the English Wikipedia, joining numerous other larger and smaller U.S. websites protesting against the proposed laws.

‘Today Wikipedians from around the world have voiced their opposition regarding these harmful laws,” said Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder, who had earlier warned that the draft-laws have a hidden agenda reaching far more than just preventing online piracy. “Although we regret preventing worldwide access to Wikipedia even if just for a second, we cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA threaten the freedom of expression in the U.S. and abroad, and are a frightening precedent of internet censorship in the world.”

The other language editions of Wikipedia shall remain available for use today, but messages of support for this move are arriving from Wikipedians from around the world. Yesterday evening, the protest was supported by Wikimedia Macedonia as well, whose official position is that the adoption of the U.S. draft-laws “would have negative implications in many other countries worldwide, especially in those where freedom of expression is not on an enviable level anyway.”

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