Why Wikipedia Is Blacked Out Today

This is what you will see when to go to Wikipedia today:

For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, 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. Learn more.

The U.K. Telegraph┬áposted a story today about the┬áStop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). Congress will be voting on the bill today. The intentions of SOPA are valid–stop the piracy of intellectual private property–it’s just that Congress, as usual, has gone overboard.

The Telegraph reports:

Spurred on by big media companies, the latest effort by governments to stamp out piracy comes in the form of two bills from the US Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

According to these acts, if a US site (or a foreign site that has its domain name registered in the US) is found to be “committing or facilitating the commission” of copyright infringment, then, on the request of a rights holder, it is subject to seizure in a way that many scholars believe violates due process, depriving people of a fair hearing and suppressing free speech.

One of the major problems with SOPA is the lack of due process. Unfortunately, our current Justice Department has a very uneven record on law enforcement–prosecutions often have a political aspect (Fast and Furious, Black Panther voter intimidation, the list goes on). Do we really want to give the government the power to shut down an Internet site? Will SOPA prevent me from quoting the sites I reference? Will SOPA allow the government to shut down any site that disagrees with the administration politically? There are simply too many unanswered questions.

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