Home School News SOPA and the Day the Internet Blacked Out

SOPA and the Day the Internet Blacked Out

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The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was one of the most controversial bills introduced in Congress in recent history. The bill, aimed at halting the ever-growing practice of online piracy of copyrighted material, would have allowed law enforcement agencies to block entire websites that hosted copyrighted material (e.g. Youtube, any website with a comments section, etc.). It was lambasted by millions claiming that it infringed on Americans’ right to freedom of speech. Regardless of the actual implications of the bill on free speech and its effects on the Internet if passed, SOPA has already managed to cause the biggest disruption of service in the Internet’s history. On January 18, 2012, Wikipedia, Reddit, and an estimated 7,000 smaller websites voluntarily blacked out in an effort to protest SOPA. Other websites, notably Google and Facebook, officially protest the bill, but stopped short of blacking out. The effects of this black out, particularly that of Wikipedia, was massive. Just yesterday (February 13, 2012), Wikipedia had 588,000 visitors. Wikipedia is one of the key resources for people seeking information on myriad subjects. In our school, an estimated 100% of students have used Wikipedia at some point for an assignment. That 100% was denied a crucial resource on that day. In response to the protests, Congress has halted further consideration of the bill until more people can agree on its contents. Hopefully that means that we will get to use Wikipedia without interruption, for the time being.