Wikipedia the free online dictionary, which is one of the most visited sites on the internet, has shut its English services for 24 hours, beginning midnight of January 18th to protest against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) and raise awareness for the cause of online freedom.
Those who would try to access the site during the next 24 hours will be redirected to the blackout page which will contain messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA.
SOPA is ostensibly designed to stop online piracy, but actually gives immense powers to content companies, which will be able to censor content on the internet. Additionally they would be able to penalize companies that they think are aiding and abetting piracy.
Given the provisions to comment, post videos, and blog on many websites, it effectively means that almost any site could be defined as abettor. As the Wikipediaâ€™s own talk page puts itâ€
â€œSOPA and PIPAâ€¦put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn’t being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won’t show up in major search engines. And, SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.â€
The site also remains accessible through mobile phones. Needless to say, the site has only blocked content in the English language, all other languages remain accessible. Also, if you press the escape key, as the website is loading, it would take you to the content and wont display the blackout page.