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SOPA Blackout Reaps Results, 4.5 Million Signed Google's Petition

On January 18, some of the web's largest companies as well as many smaller sites rallied together in protest against two anti-privacy bills, SOPA and PIPA, currently under consideration on Capitol Hill. Some companies, such as Wikipedia, blacked out for 24 hours, while others, such as Google and Craigslist, featured links on their pages with information about the bills.

As a result of the planned protest, 4.5 million people signed Google's anti-SOPA petition on the day of the blackout, according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper also reported that 162 million people visited Wikipedia on Wednesday, while 8 million U.S. readers followed Wikipedia's advice to look up their congressional representatives from the site. Twitter confirmed that 2.4 million tweets related to the bills were sent in the first 16 hours of the day of the blackout, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And the 24-hour fight was worth the effort, although it is not over yet. The Los Angeles Times reported that nearly five co-sponsors of the anti-piracy bills have dropped their support since the protest. In addition, lead sponsors have promised to make changes to the legislation; amendments to PIPA are expected to be revealed before Tuesday's vote.

Supporters of the bills say that they are written to curtail online privacy and theft of American-made digital content, such as movies, TV shows, and music. However, opponents of the bills say that the legislation is too vague, threatens free speech, inhibits innovation, and can harm the livelihood of online businesses. In short, those against the bills fear it will lead to online censorship that could eventually cut off free information on the internet.

- Melanie Saxe

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Jan 19, 2012