THE FOUNDER and head of Wikipedia is asking its users if they will support shutting down the web site in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
In a message on the website Jimmy Wales raises the question of whether to shut down the web site as part of a larger online uprising.
"As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a law going under the misleading title of "Stop Online Piracy Act' is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track," he wrote as he recalled an online blackout by Wikipedia in Italy.
"I thought this would be a good time to take a quick reading of the community feeling on this issue. My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case."
The strike plan is just a suggestion of course, and Wales said that it was up to the community to decide whether it should be limited to the US only, which could have some impact, or wider, which would likely raise more awareness about the anti 'piracy' act.
"One possible view is that because the law would seriously impact the functioning of Wikipedia for everyone, a global strike of at least the English Wikipedia would put the maximum pressure on the US government," he said. "At the same time, it's of course a very very big deal to do something like this, it is unprecedented for English Wikipedia."
Unprecendented or not, the move could shake up the government, according to Wales, and he imagines that with enough people power, since he and indeed Wikipedia are not the only ones to oppose it, SOPA could be kicked into the dustbin of history.
"Do not underestimate our power - in my opinion, they are terrified of a public uprising about this, and we are uniquely positioned to start that. Back room politics over cigars and promises, or a vigorous public debate? I know what I want, and I know what the other side wants, and they aren't the same thing," he added in response to a question from a Wikipedia user. µ