Though this post is hardly period-related, I thought I’d bring alight an internet concern that has plagued news headlines for the past while across the world. I’m sure some of you have guessed this is related to SOPA and PIPA legislation which is passing through congress in United States. As much as I am not exactly a “fan” of Americans to begin with, the actions of their chosen government promotes even more reason to hate their country. I’m not sure how far I stand on the “anti-American” scale and judging from many of my visitors probably being from the US, this is not going to be a very popular stance I’m taking, but since people have a right to enjoy/not read my blog, I allow myself to make a less-than-nice statement about the country which brought forth such a devastating blow to internet freedom.
For those who are aware of these legislation, you’re probably also well aware some of the worlds biggest online presence websites such as Wikipedia, Boing Boing, WordPress, Reddit, Imgur, Mojang, and Tucows will be blacking out their sites on January 18th in opposition to these bills. Below is Wikipedia’s letter to its’ users on their intent to support the blackout and denounce the direction which the “industry” and American government wants.
You can read the original post here.
To: English Wikipedia Readers and Community
From: Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director
Date: January 16, 2012
Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18 (you can read the statement from the Wikimedia Foundation here). The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate – that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.
This will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made. Here’s how it’s been described by the three Wikipedia administrators who formally facilitated the community’s discussion. From the public statement, signed by User:NuclearWarfare, User:Risker and User:Billinghurst:
- It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web.
- Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss proposed actions that the community might wish to take against SOPA and PIPA. This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a “blackout” of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.
- On careful review of this discussion, the closing administrators note the broad-based support for action from Wikipedians around the world, not just from within the United States. The primary objection to a global blackout came from those who preferred that the blackout be limited to readers from the United States, with the rest of the world seeing a simple banner notice instead. We also noted that roughly 55% of those supporting a blackout preferred that it be a global one, with many pointing to concerns about similar legislation in other nations.
In making this decision, Wikipedians will be criticized for seeming to abandon neutrality to take a political position. That’s a real, legitimate issue. We want people to trust Wikipedia, not worry that it is trying to propagandize them.
But although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not. As Wikimedia Foundation board member Kat Walsh wrote on one of our mailing lists recently,
- We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression. For the most part, Wikimedia projects are organizing and summarizing and collecting the world’s knowledge. We’re putting it in context, and showing people how to make to sense of it.
- But that knowledge has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process, it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikimedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.
The decision to shut down the English Wikipedia wasn’t made by me; it was made by editors, through a consensus decision-making process. But I support it.
Like Kat and the rest of the Wikimedia Foundation Board, I have increasingly begun to think of Wikipedia’s public voice, and the goodwill people have for Wikipedia, as a resource that wants to be used for the benefit of the public. Readers trust Wikipedia because they know that despite its faults, Wikipedia’s heart is in the right place. It’s not aiming to monetize their eyeballs or make them believe some particular thing, or sell them a product. Wikipedia has no hidden agenda: it just wants to be helpful.
That’s less true of other sites. Most are commercially motivated: their purpose is to make money. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a desire to make the world a better place – many do! – but it does mean that their positions and actions need to be understood in the context of conflicting interests.
My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States, don’t advance the interests of the general public. You can read a very good list of reasons to oppose SOPA and PIPA here, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Why is this a global action, rather than US-only? And why now, if some American legislators appear to be in tactical retreat on SOPA?
The reality is that we don’t think SOPA is going away, and PIPA is still quite active. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the Internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA: they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone.
Make your voice heard!
On January 18, we hope you’ll agree with us, and will do what you can to make your own voice heard.
Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
It seems like America has too much time on their hands or perhaps, just want to find ways to mess with the world legal system (because really, why should other countries care or abide by your shitty laws?) or rob citizens of their money. I wonder how many people they hire to spin this to make it sound like it will “benefit the average person” rather than hinder. I think America right now needs some more natural disasters to deal with, because the government sure has a lot of petty time on their hands. Perhaps they need more terrorists attacking them or something similar to 9-11 to let them know people aren’t happy with this. Whatever catastrophe’s happen to the US in the near future, they’re totally deserving of it. I’d be happy right now to wake up tomorrow morning and see not SOPA-related stuff on the news, but that perhaps that their country has been hit by cyber-criminals from China or a nuclear meltdown. In my prayers tonight, I will not be praying for a sound sleep, but in hopes that the US will be taught a lesson by the world not to try to break the world as much as it already is and perhaps concentrate on fixing the economy (by not robbing your citizens money due to “copyright” crimes) and creating a respectful country like it once was. I wasn’t born hating Americans, in fact, Americans used to be who I considered to be Canada’s greatest friend (beyond military and trade means), but that when I saw Americans in Canada, I’d be nice to them. Now when I see them on our highways, I try to run them off the road (especially if they’re speeding/driving recklessly because they think as an American, they can ignore Canadian-law), when I see them at tourist locations, I give them no respect, when I see “bad things” happen to the US, in the back of my mind I’m grinning and thinking “those suckers deserve it.” I loved Americans at one point in my life, but they have shown me too many times they’re not worth respecting.
Yes, perhaps I’m petty as well, but so is the US when they come up with things that stop the world from advancing. Sooner or later, they’ll turn into North Korea and China who monitor the breakfast you’re eating in the morning to how many shits you take a day. Hey wait, aren’t those countries the one that US detest the most for oppressing their citizens of free speech and uncensored internet connectivity? If the laws do get passed, US, you’re welcome to govern stuff in your own shitty country, but don’t impose laws on Canada and internationally where you don’t own dick all. I need to see if I can find toilet paper with the US flag printed on it so I can wipe my ass after I take a rancid shit.