Freedom of speech at issue for critics of anti-piracy law
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — To protest the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act pending in Congress, the English-language Wikipedia will be blacked out for 24 hours starting at 0:500 UTC.
Numerous other web-based publishing platforms will also be protesting, including Google, which will post a protest sign. Numerous WordPress blogs, including Summit Voice, will also be blacked out Thursday.
Wikimedia Foundation director Sue Gardner announced the blackout Jan. 16 with an announcement on the foundation’s website, saying that the proposed law twould seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.
Here’s an excerpt from the post:
” … 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 bill would enable law enforcement authorities to obtain court orders against websites outside the U.S. if they’re suspected of violating, or enabling violations of copyrights. Under a court order, the U.S. Attorney General could require U.S. internet service providers, ad networks, and payment processors to suspend doing business with sites.
Backers say the measure would help protect intellectual property rights, but critics say it’s another step toward blocking the free flow of information that’s at the heart of the bill and enables censorship, in violation of the 1st Amendment.
Wikipedia, which itself could be affected by the law, describes the issue in a neutral post.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post says it will answer queries in lieu of Wikipedia: