Websites go dark in protest of SOPA, PIPA bills

Several leading online sites have turned black Wednesday after shutting down its operations to protest the proposed anti-piracy bills now being deliberated in the US Congress.

Access to many sites has returned with blacked-out front pages with messages of 24-hour shutdown and calls for support against the passage of the said legislation that is seen to stifle free and open Internet.

Wikipedia, a popular online encyclopedia which is regularly being visited daily by millions of web users around the world for its massive repository of knowledge and wealth of information on almost any subject is among those that turned dark.

“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,” Wikipedia posted on its blacked-out page.

It also explained why it is protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), two bills filed in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively, that seek to halt copyright infringement committed by foreign sites.

While the draft legislation is reportedly being supported by industries promoting anti-piracy such as the Hollywood, music industry, Business Software Alliance, National Association of Manufacturers, and the US Chamber of Commerce, but Internet giants are strongly against it.

Founders of Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo! and other Internet heavyweights last month collectively voiced out  their concerns over the draft bills, citing in an open letter that the legislative measure would “give the US government the power to censor the Web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran.”