the online encyclopedia, went offline Wednesday, joining a daylong
internet strike of over a dozen other websites, including Google,
to protest proposed US laws purportedly aimed at combating digital
Discussion forums Reddit and Boing Boing, and Firefox browser
designer Mozilla also are closing down Wednesday in protest.
Hundreds of other sites, such as search-engine giant Google, are
posting links on their home pages highlighting opposition to the
legislation, the Washington Times reported.
The English version of Wikipedia's website became inaccessible at
5 a.m. Wikipedia is opposing the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) being debated by
Jimmy Wales, who founded the site, told the BBC: "Proponents of
SOPA have characterised the opposition as being people who want to
enable piracy or defend piracy."
Google blacked out its logo on the US version of its website and
added a link encouraging Americans to oppose the bills.
SOPA and PIPA being debated in the Senate target foreign websites
that violate copyrights online by banning US companies from
providing them with advertising, payment or other internet
US payment processors and advertisers would have to end service to
foreign websites that copyright holders say are infringing their
rights, or be liable to be sued. Search engines and internet
companies would be banned from providing links to infringing
The proposed laws "endanger free speech both in the United States
and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of internet censorship
for the world," said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in a statement.
He said Wikipedia's English-language community decided to join the
strike after a three-day debate in which 1,800 members of the
encyclopedia's global community participated.
Critics argue that the proposals would stifle internet innovation,
a key driver of US and global economic growth.
Mozilla Corp., the nonprofit that produces the Firefox browser,
said the proposed laws would "protect content at all costs,
creating the opportunity for abuse and damaging online
capabilities for all of us," according to the Washington Times.
Supporters of the bills include movie and music companies such as
Walt Disney, content providers such as the National Football
League and News Corp., pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly,
and the US Chamber of Commerce.
They argue the bills' sweeping provisions are necessary to shutter
the burgeoning numbers of foreign-based cybercrime sites that sell
counterfeit goods, pirated software or fake pharmaceuticals, or
stream copyrighted content like music and movies.