WMPH Statement on the English Wikipedia's Blackout
On January 18, after gathering the input of over 1,800 editors, the English Wikipedia blacked out in protest of new U.S. legislation that seeks to prevent the piracy of American intellectual property. All of a sudden, we were made to "imagine a world without free knowledge," where information was no longer free to circulate and enrich the minds of millions of internet users every single day.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), which are pending before the United States Congress, may be something most Filipinos would hardly care about, but the repercussions of these bills, once enacted into law, would certainly have an impact on us, despite being some 8,000 miles away. Wikimedia Philippines, along with the rest of the Wikimedia community, fears that these will severely impair the internet's ability to serve as a conduit of human expression, regardless wherever anyone maybe in our ever-connected world as the passage of SOPA and PIPA will absolutely reverberate beyond America's borders and will seriously put in question the continued viability of the internet as a bastion of free speech and expression.
In the interest of protecting American intellectual property against pirates, we end up sacrificing a far-greater value: the freedom of internet users to express their thoughts and ideas in media forms that aim to foster global understanding and the bridging of diverse political opinion, cultural patrimony and intellectual discourse. And sacrificing this value is something Wikimedia Philippine would not accede to.
We hope that this blackout will deliver a very important message: that the internet should always remain free, and Wikipedia readers both in the Philippines and throughout the world should understand the importance of the internet's freedom in providing the content that we use in our everyday lives. As Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's co-founder, puts it, "we believe that Wikipedia's content has been, is, and will always be neutral." But Wikipedia does not exist in a neutral world: we cannot be tasked to remain apolitical when the very work that editors and contributors like you have done will be jeopardized by laws like SOPA and PIPA, and in dire, desperate situations like this one, it becomes inevitable to act in order to the save the very things we love.
The Filipino Wikimedia community is one with the entire Wikimedia community in support of the English Wikipedia's blackout, and we will be steadfast in the fight against the curtailment of internet freedom. We seek everyone's support and understanding of this action, as we continue to imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
Mabuhay ang Wikipedia!
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Wikimedia Philippines, Inc.
January 18, 2012