Wikipedia, hundreds of websites to go dark Wednesday in protest of anti-piracy bills in U.S. congress

In protest of two Congressional bills that critics contend amount to censorship of the Internet, Wikipedia announced that it will go dark on Wednesday Jan. 18, reported The New York Times.

"Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday! #sopa," Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales tweeted Monday, Jan. 16. Listen to Wales explain the blackout here.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the Senate are aimed at curbing online companies' unauthorized use of copyrighted material by requiring search engines and Internet providers to prohibit access to websites containing pirated content. Opponents have voiced concerns that the proposals are a violation of the First Amendment. ABC News offers an explanation of the controversial bills and the movement against them.

Hundreds of websites, including Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress and Boing Boing, have said they will participate in the 24-hour SOPA Strike, reported the Los Angeles Times, shutting down their websites Wednesday in protest. While Twitter has been a vocal opponent of the two bills, and speculation abounded that it, too, would go dark, on Monday Twitter said it will not participate in the blackout, reported the Washington Post. In fact, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo even called the blackout "silly," reported Forbes.

Google is offering its own form of protest to the anti-piracy bills by planning to place a link at the top of its homepage highlighting its opposition to the measures, according to Bloomberg.

The Online News Association and the American Society of News Editors have come out in opposition to the bills.

Even the White House has weighed in on the anti-piracy bills, 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."