In an unprecedented move, Reporters Without Borders will shut down its English-language website for 24 hours from 8 a.m. EST on 18 January, in protest against two online piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), which are currently working their way through the US Congress.
In so doing, Reporters Without Borders is joining the many other organizations with a special interest in the Internet, such as Wikipedia, the social network Reddit and the French “hactivist” group, the Parti Pirate (Pirate Party), which will make their websites inaccessible tomorrow in a show of opposition to the proposed legislation.
“We have decided to close our English-language website for 24 hours to symbolize the oppressive gag that would spread over the Internet as we know it if SOPA and PIPA are adopted,” Reporters Without Borders said. “These bills would affect an incalculable number of Internet users who are innocent of any kind of intellectual property violation by forcing websites to block access to other sites suspected of vaguely-defined copyright breaches.
“These two excessively repressive bills would lead to an unprecedented degree of Internet censorship and would sacrifice online freedom of expression in the name of combating piracy. It is not right that the country that gave birth to the Internet should now deliver the death blow to digital freedom.
“Such legislation would discredit the US government’s advocacy of worldwide online freedom of expression and would really hurt netizens who use censorship circumvention tools and open-source communities. We appeal to US senators and representatives to reject these repressive bills and to find other ways to protect intellectual property rights.”
Introduced in the US Senate in May 2011, the Protect Intellectual Property Act
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