For 24 hours Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopedia, will blackout its English version to protest the controversial US bill Stop Online Piracy Act SOPA and Protect Intellectual Property Act PIPA. During the blackout period visitors to Wikipedia will see a black page with a bold white text that says Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge, instead of the article they intend to access.
According to Wikipedia, this blackout is aimed at raising awareness about SOPA and PIPA, two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively that could negatively change the internet as we know it today. This they hope will generate more debate and conversation about the bills.
As laudable as the names of these two bills may sound, opponents say the bills will cause more harm than good. Most opponents of the bill agree with the philosophy behind the SOPA and PIPA bills, but have problem with the implementation and practicality.
The major fear of opponents is that SOPA and PIPA could lead to censorship on the internet. The bills also give sweeping power to the US government to shutdown sites accused of piracy. Under SOPA sites like Youtube, Wikipedia, and Facebook can be easily shutdown on an allegation of aiding piracy.
So, if you are a regular Wikipedia user, you have to wait for the blackout to end. If you can’t wait, you can use the cache feature of Google search to access Wikipedia articles. You can also stop the browser after loading your article before in redirects to the blackout page.