Five major websites will go dark on Wednesday protesting two Congressional bills, which critics argue could curtail Internet and free speech.
If passed, The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act or PIPA, would allow the US government to seek a court order and even shut down websites that contain content or links to unauthorized copyrighted content. Moreover, advertisers and Internet service providers would be banned from doing business with transgressors.
Proponents of the legislation include companies that are trying to protect their copyrights, such as the Motion Picture Association of America, the NBA, Pfizer, Nike, L’Oreal, as well as the US Chamber of Commerce, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the US Conference of Mayors.
However, voices of opposition include Internet giants Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, eBay,Mozilla, and Wikipedia – who say that the proposed laws constitute a First Amendment violation, promote censorship, and harm the democratic flow of information.