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The Philippine chapter of Wikimedia, the foundation behind the open-source online encyclopedia Wikipedia, is throwing its full support behind its international counterpart's 24-hour blackout to oppose a US anti-piracy bill due to its supposed censorship potential.
WikiMedia Philippines said that, while the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) might protect American intellectual property rights against pirates, it will do so at the cost of a far greater value: the freedom of expression of Internet users.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Wikimedia Philippines also voiced similar concerns about another pending US bill, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
"(T)he 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," it said.
"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," it added.
Wikimedia Philippines voiced hopes that the 24-hour blackout by Wikipedia 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."
It also pointed out the work of editors and contributors in Wikipedia will be jeopardized by laws like SOPA and PIPA.
On the other hand, it said that while SOPA and PIPA may be something most Filipinos would hardly care about, "the repercussions of these bills, once enacted into law, would certainly have an impact on us, despite being some 8,000 miles away."
"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," it said. — TJD, GMA News