What does an Internet behemoth do when proposed congressional legislation threatens the very functionality of the Web? If you are Google or Wikipedia, you organize a massive, daylong website blackout in protest. In the beginning of the year, in a battle over government regulation of the Internet, movie- and music-business executives backed the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) as well as the Protect Intellectual Property Act, the Senate’s version of the bill. To the Internet industry, the powers that would be granted by these bills — including the power to block access to offshore websites hosting illegal content — were too broad and akin to censorship. On Jan. 18, standing firmly against the legislation, thousands of sites either joined Wikipedia in shutting down their functionality or else followed Google and blacked out their logo, crystallizing public opinion in their favor. Many members of Congress withdrew their support for the legislation, which has been shelved.
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