Wikipedia Shuts Down…

…thankfully, only for a day. This is as a mark of protest against some proposed legislation – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the US Senate. Must have been taken a good deal of thought to announce the 24 hours blackout, obviously aimed at mobilising public opinion against the proposed legislation and making the general public aware of the threat to freedom of information flows in the internet. I agree and so does the Obama establishment saying that “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression…”. It does seem a very retrograde step and suited to serve the commercial interests of those who profit by limiting access to information. While the White House statement veers off into cyber security issues, the moot point is the thin line that seperates responsible information dissemination and cyber sanctimoniousness.

Various culture, education, IT and Information and moral ministries and politicians appear to be the most sanctimonious of the lot. It was learnt recently that a Minister of the Government had summoned execs from Facebook, Google and Twitter and asked them to remove content that maligned the current Congress President. Wow! That was some time back. Personally, I have absolutely no interest to search and read about the Congress President – regardless of the antecendents or authenticity of such information but I do care about such social media websites running fine and being allowed to flourish. A statement by an Indian judge however seeks to thwart that desire – he told Google and Facebook that their websites can be blocked “like China” if they fail to come up with a way to remove religiously offensive content. Some obscene pictures and derogatory articles pertaining to various Hindu gods, Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ have been found on the internet it seems. Quite predictably, todays Times of India carried a short comment from these companies pointing out to the fact that India is not China – in that it is a democracy where freedom of speech and expression is a right.

Which finally brings me to these fantastic infographics by http://open.youyuxi.com/ on the who, what, how and why of internet censorship around the world. The site has a counter for visitors to vote for an internet that is more open and uncensored. 2.27 million people have said a yes to that, including me. I use wikipedia extensively – very extensively in fact and I hope that they don’t touch it too much.

Update [18Jan’12, 4:53pm IST]:

And this is how wordpress looked like some time back today. Brilliant stuff!!

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About Kaushal
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