The World Wide Web Goes On Strike - SOPA - PIPA Jan 18, 2012
If you try to access websites such as Wordpress and Wikipedia today you’ll struggle to find out the information you went there to search for. Much of the internet is on strike as a stand against two bills looking to be passed in the USA which would put websites at risk The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are currently being debated in the US congress and if passed would change the way the internet works and put websites at risk of being closed if they break any rules.

If you do try to access Wikipedia today you’ll find their pages taken down and instead a message which reads "For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopaedia in human history. Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia."

Even websites such as Google have joined in the protest with the Google logo blacked out on their main page and a link to a petition asking the Congress not to go ahead with this massive change.

The actual bills are being debated as a way to stop foreign websites committing copyright infringement and sharing copyrighted materials. However it is felt that if passed it will stop free expression on the internet and actually harm the way our online media works.  This is because it will be hard to govern the risk involved (for example you could get into trouble if you link to a site that breaks this copyright infringement) so it could stop large companies supporting smaller websites because they don’t want to put their own website at risk.

From Midnight on the 18th January a number of websites have joined in this strike including Reddit and blogging website Boing Boing. Twitter has been urged to join in although have so far declined.

The next discussion of the bill is due to happen in early February so websites are hoping that this large protest will raise awareness, get people talking about it and of course encourage internet users to sign the petition online that is widely against this censorship of the internet. There are loads of websites set up online with the details of these bills and what is happening next so if you want to find out more a quick Google search should point you in the right direction.