Wikipedia will be offline for 24 hours on Wednesday 18th January as part of the protest against anti-piracy laws which will be debated in the US Congress. It is the most well known site of a number of websites taking part in the action by blacking out their website for 24 hours. The site is opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) currently being debated in the USA.
It is the first time ever that Wikipedia has taken such action. The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, said on the BBC: "Proponents of SOPA have characterised the opposition as being people who want to enable piracy or defend piracy. But that's not really the point. The point is the bill is so over broad and so badly written that it's going to impact all kinds of things that don't have anything to do with stopping piracy." Wikipedia has said that the bills will be “devastating to the free and open web”.
On Saturday the White House issued a statement saying "While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet."
Twitter has refused to join the protest however, with its CEO Dick Costolo tweeting “Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish”. Rupert Murdoch supports the bills and has criticised President Obama for his stance.