Anti-piracy legislation causes Internet protest

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Jan. 18 marked a widespread Internet protest in response to two anti-piracy bills making their way through Congress. The two bills are the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Over 7,000 websites participated in the protest with some websites completely blacking out their sites’ normal services and instead informed site visitors on the two pieces of legislation SOPA and PIPA. The bills are designed to restrict unauthorized copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property. However, those against the act claim these anti-piracy regulations would inhibit information shared via the Internet. Concerns have also been raised about the danger these legislations could pose to free speech if the government were to begin extensive censorship. Popular free encyclopedia Wikipedia participated in a full-fledged 24-hour blackout. Instead of offering up its free encyclopedia to visitors on Jan. 18, the site informed viewers of the issues regarding SOPA and PIPA. Other major websites Reddit, Boing Boing, WordPress, MoveOn.org and Mozilla also went “dark” in protest. “The purpose of the blackout is twofold: to raise awareness of SOPA and PIPA among the general public, and to encourage people to share their views with their representatives,” wrote Wikipedia in a statement on its site. Late Jan. 18, Wikipedia said over 90 million people viewed their blackout page and more than five million viewers took steps to contact their elected representatives. Although popular web destinations like Google, Facebook, and Twitter did not participate in a full on blackout, they did advocate Internet users to contact their local representatives on the issue. Search engine giant Google said, “Tell Congress: please don’t censure the web!” Google reported they believe PIPA and SOPA will hamper American business. The Senate will start voting on the anti-piracy legislation beginning Jan. 24.
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