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Back in Time: Internet Blackout

Websites big and small plan to "turn off" for at least part of the day Wednesday in protest of two bills that activists say threaten Internet openness.

Remember what it was like, way back in 2000?

No Wikipedia (launched in 2001), no Reddit (founded in 2005). No WordPress (founded in 2003).

Take a trip back in time beginning 12 a.m. Wednesday morning, when Wikipedia's English-language site and a host of other websites will black out for 12 to 24 hours in protest of two pending bills that advocates of Internet openness say will promote censorship.

The blackout was organized by several groups, including the nonprofit Fight for the Future, which supports freedom of expression on the Internet. 

Sponsors of the two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Internet Property Act (PIPA) have said that they are aimed at protecting revenues that can be hard to keep a firm grasp on in the age of digital file sharing.

A host of Internet bigwigs plan to show support for the protests without blocking access to their sites, including Mozilla, with this Protect the Internet page, and Google, which told CNet that it plans to “highlight this issue on our U.S. homepage.”

Patch will not be blacking out. Its parent company, AOL, has released this statement:

As written, we cannot support the bills. We believe an open Internet is critical for innovation, job creation, and the sustained growth of Internet businesses. We are in the process of working directly with lawmakers to improve the bills.

Read more about both bills, and who is supporting them, on the BBC.

While Wikipedia may be a good starting point to find primary source documents for research, in Howard County, we’re lucky to have another resource, the Howard County Library System.

“The instructors and research specialists are always available to assist customers with research assistance for school projects, business needs or other needs,” Director of Public Relations Christie Lassen wrote in an email. 

Like Wikipedia, you can access information online, including specialized databases and periodicals

Unlike Wikipedia, librarians and research specialists are also available on the phone, via email and in person.

Capital News Service contributed to this article.

Johnny Seb January 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM
List of participants, videos about SOPA/PIPA, and more are at http://InternetBlackoutDay.com
withavengeance January 18, 2012 at 02:18 PM
LOL, gotta admit, it's annoying as heck!
JJ January 18, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Cached web pages make all of their huffing and pouting futile.
MG42 January 18, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I haven't been following this legislation very closely, but who is supporting it? Everyone and their brother seems to be against it. One day of wikipedia access is worth more to me than any of those scumbags in congress.
McDaniel Student January 18, 2012 at 07:58 PM
It's mostly Viacom and other large media corporations that support the bill. They have played the traditional approach of contracting lobbysists and working with the lawmakers in Washington so that is why we are not seeing much public support in favor of the bills. This is a statement from the Senator Chris Dodd, who was just made President of the MPAA. It pretty strongly condemns what the sites are doing: http://www.mpaa.org/resources/c4c3712a-7b9f-4be8-bd70-25527d5dfad8.pdf
MG42 January 18, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Thanks. It's frightening to know that congress can be purchased by large corporations.
MG42 January 19, 2012 at 01:33 AM
It's interesting that Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin have been tweeted by constituents all day long to not vote for this legislation. Both have been completely silent. I suppose both of our senators have been purchased by Viacom and other corps.

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