January 17, 2012    /    by

Wikipedia Protest: Websites Plan Jan 18 Shutdown Over SOPA

On January 18, 2012, Wikipedia and a long list of other popular websites will go dark to protest the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all online …. Along comes something else that’s new and raises plenty of serious tough questions.

On January 18, 2012, Wikipedia and a long list of other popular websites will go dark to protest the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The Internet is full of stories on this topic. USA Today ran a front page story covering the fast-approaching event. Here’s an excerpt:

“Mozilla, Word Press and TwitPic have joined a growing list of websites that plan to go dark Wednesday to protest the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, CBS News reports….

Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing have already announced that they plan to go offline Wednesday.

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, tweeted: ‘All US Citizens: #WikipediaBlackout means nothing unless you call your Senators. Do it now! Give friends the number too!’"

We’ve seen Cyber Sit-ins, hackers shutting down and slowing down websites and even a website dedicated to starting a cyber protest of your choice, but this may be even more disruptive.

Without taking sides, here are just some of the tough questions that this protest raises:

1)      Have we put too much trust in Wikipedia and these other websites for educational or other purposes?

2)      Where are the lines for websites shutting down to protest new or proposed government regulation or any other issue in society?

3)       What can customers do to prepare for these disruptions?

4)      Will these protests help or hurt the chances for this legislation to pass?

5)      Does this set a dangerous precedent for others websites and/or causes?

One thing seems certain: cyber protests are here to stay. I certainly expect to see more online activity like this. It will be very interesting to see how the public reacts.

What are your thoughts? Is this a good way to protest SOPA, or a big mistake for Wikipedia and others?