Hacktivists and Corporations Unite in Anti-SOPA and PIPA Blackout Protest

By Alastair Stevenson on January 18, 2012, 11:59AM EST

Making good on their promises, numerous hacktivist groups, bloggers and companies have rallied together mounting a "Blackout" protest against the US' Stop Online Piracy and Protect Intellectual Property Acts.

The protest follows the Anonymous collective's OpBlackOut call to arms. Moving past the collective's call for a cyber-defacement campaign, numerous companies including, Reddit, Wordpress, Wikipedia and even the lord of all things search, Google, have joined the protest.

Following its Tuesday anti-SOPA statement Wikipedia blacked out its homepage stating simply that; "If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States."

While not fully blacking out its front page - instead simply censoring its logo - Google voiced similar disapproval of the acts, publishing a statement clarifying that if passed "PIPA & SOPA will censor the web" and that "PIPA & SOPA will risk our industry's track record of innovation and job creation," finally adding "PIPA & SOPA will not stop piracy."

Reddit and Wordpress mounted similar protests, changing their landing pages to contain anti-SOPA and PIPA statements. Wordpress also released its own plug-in allowing its users to quickly add their own anti-censorship "Blackout" front pages.

Doing exactly what is says on the label, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is designed to protect copyrighted material from online piracy. However, since its announcement the act has come under wide-spread criticism, with numerous groups voicing concerns about the new powers the act could grant US law enforcement. A common concern is the suggestion that the act will allow police to arrest, fine and potentially jail individuals for seemingly minor offences, such as uploading a copyrighted video onto YouTube.

Following the public backlash, SOPA's hearing was put on hiatus and certain parts of the bill were removed or amended - though with the hearing set to resume in February it remains uncertain whether these changes will stay. Additionally, many of the controversial points are still contained in SOPA's sibling, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

If approved, Pipa would give the US Justice Department the power to block access to certain sites. Additionally the act would also give the Justice Department the power to force credit card companies and online advertisers to cut their ties to "rogue" websites.

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