Abadi: Wikipedia, Reddit black out in protest of SOPA; U.S. media suspiciously quiet

I casually clicked around my favorite news websites Tuesday as a part of my daily routine. I couldn’t help but notice all the way up until the sun was about to set, the major U.S. news companies (MSNBC, CNN, Fox News) were showing a slow news week.

It wasn’t until I popped over to BBC News’ website that I noticed there was a major protest underway. In big print, their front page explained that two major websites, Wikipedia and Reddit, were going offline today in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act.

SOPA and PIPA are two bills that will go in front of Congress soon. In short, they are meant to put a stop to the illegal pirating of music, movies and other copyrighted material.

These bills sound good on the surface, because who wouldn’t want to stop online piracy? Except maybe anyone who has ever torrented a movie or illegally downloaded a song. I’m lookin’ at you, criminal. But in practice, these bills are much too broad and will end up censoring all the best parts of the Internet.

“The main concern that a lot of people have is that the definition and language used in the bills are too broad,” said University College Democrats President Kathryne Maurer. @@[email protected]@ “They can have some serious consequences in internet use and in future start-up businesses.”

You may have noticed Google’s logo has been blacked out. Google is now urging its users to sign a petition to pressure Congress into voting against SOPA and PIPA.

The bills, if passed, will most likely shut down or greatly cripple sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Wikipedia, Reddit, Google and YouTube. Let’s not cloud the point. This is internet censorship, and unless you’re a technology-hating Eugene hippie, this will affect you.

“The issue here is that this law is very badly written, very broadly overreaching and, in at least the Senate version, would include the creation of a DNS (domain name system) blocking regime that’s technically identical to the one that’s used by China,” co-founder to Wikipedia Jimmy Wales told CNN yesterday.

What’s interesting is that before this blackout, major U.S. media hadn’t spoken much about these bills.

If you look a little deeper, you’ll see that Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, openly supports these bills. Last weekend, he tweeted: “Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying.”

So it should come as no surprise that as of Tuesday night, Fox News, owned by News Corp., has the blackout story in teeny, tiny letters in the corner of their website.

CNN, who has put off talking about the bills until recently, is owned by Time Warner, which has also openly supported SOPA. Hopefully these protests will affect the public enough to force U.S. media to report more honestly on the matter.

This is one of the major reasons the blackout today is happening. These major websites are protesting to make people in the U.S. have access to unbiased information about the bills.

Wikimedia Foundation board member Kat Walsh spoke out against media bias on Monday in Wikipedia’s letter to its readers.

“Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or if your views are preapproved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to,” Walsh said.

SOPA was recently put on hold to hammer out the details, but PIPA will be going to the Senate for a vote next Tuesday.

“The blackout is happening to bring national attention to the matter,” Maurer said.

Wikipedia’s English site went down at 9 p.m. last night and will be down until 9 p.m. tonight, and Reddit went down at 5 a.m. this morning and will be down until 5 p.m. Keep your eyes peeled for updates to these bills, and do your research, so you’re not left in the dark.

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