Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales blogs that he is considering a blackout of pages on the popular site to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act. Wales has asked users and editors of Wikipedia to weigh in with their opinions before he makes a decision. The entertainment industry wants the government to take stronger action against “digital theft” and has lobbied heavily in favor of SOPA, while Internet companies, the Consumer Electronics Association and others have argued that the measure is goes too far and is too vague. They fear that SOPA and to a lesser extent its companion Senate measure Protect IP Act would grant U.S. law enforcement sweeping powers to shut down websites and online services accused of facilitating piracy — or even sites media companies simply don’t like — potentially without due process. Google chairman Eric Schmidt says it amounts to a license for corporate censorship. Wales came up with the idea for his protest because “the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately,” he wrote on his personal User Talk page. Wales considers SOPA a much worse law. He believes that blanking out the site might be the best way to get Washington’s attention.
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