The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has shut down
its English-language site, and other popular websites are also launching protests against legislation being considered in the U.S. Congress which critics say could be used for censorship.
Wikipedia says its English website – used by hundreds of millions of people every day – will go dark for all of January 18, while Google and other sites are also calling attention to the legislation on their pages.
The legislation -- called the Stop Online Piracy Act in the U.S. House Of Representatives, and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the U.S. Senate -- is designed to combat illegal sales of pirated U.S. intellectual property.
Supporters include the film and music industries, who say they lose millions of dollars when their products are distributed illegally.
But critics say that if the legislation is made law, authorities will have new powers to shut down websites accused of piracy without due process, and that free speech and innovation on the Internet could be inhibited.
compiled from agency reports