In the last several years, whenever the DC political class & the Big Telecoms have started campaigns to bully/privatize/censor the Internet, one of my 1st worries has been the consequences for one of the Net's greatest sources of information — dare I say, among the Net's greatest ideas, bar none — the non-profit, user-edited & operated Wikipedia.
SOPA & PIPA, the latest round in the legacy media's war on the Web, indeed threaten the very basis for a site like Wikipedia's existence. One company with a bee in their bonnets over one fair use image (or even alleged free use image) — or anything, or nothing, that some business could use as the basis for a harassing accusation — could get the government to kill the entire site & bury its founders in lawsuits & indictments.
In WP's case, then, the core concept of Neutral Point Of View could be destroyed. Bill O'Reilly doesn't like WP mentioning the Andrea Makris suit? He'll send one of his hacks to post an unauthorized pic of Lindsay Lohan somewhere & blow the whistle. Bye bye Wikipedia. Now that'll teach all you dirty bloggers to tow the line.
Plenty of Wikipedians are outraged at this possibility — & are talking about doing something to help stop it.
They're talking about going on strike. WP founder Jimbo Wales is suggesting something similar to what the Italian Wikipedia did recently to send the Italian parliament a message on editorial integrity. (Specifically the Italians temporarily blanked all of their pages.)
As of yet, the plans aren't specific, though 87% of Wikipedians who have responded on Wales' talk page support some sort of action like this on the English Wikipedia in particular or worldwide — not necessarily blanking all pages, but perhaps covering pages with information banners informing WP's massive audience how the temporary disruption in their research is nothing compared to what many in Congress now have in mind.
SOPA is fast-tracked for markup in the Judiciary Committee tomorrow. We'll see how WP & others follow suit.