RSA Conference: Wikipedia founder takes 'a lot of credit' for collapse of SOPA
RSA Conference: Wikipedia founder takes 'a lot of credit' for collapse of SOPA

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has claimed that its 'blackout' on 18th January had a major effect in the freezing of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) by the US Congress two days later.

Wales, who delivered the closing keynote at the RSA Conference Europe in London this week, said that he took ‘a lot of credit' for the freezing of the act two days later on 20th January, as ten million people contacted the US Congress on 18th January and 160 million looked at the banner.

He said: “Tons of people saw the banner, the phone system in the House of Representatives crashed so it had a big impact on Capitol Hill and their response was immediately to drop it, so yes it is good.

“We're not Google who has full-on lobbyists, we had one guy [to] help us navigate and one guy who was the main opponent of it, but we are such a small team that we do not have the ability to reach out one-on-one.”

In his keynote, Wales said that Wikipedia was one of many to fight against SOPA, as it saw it as a law that would allow the US government to block websites. Also, its decision to take the website offline outside of the US was due to all websites potentially being impacted and while he was not pro-piracy, it put the expectation of copyright levels in doubt.

He said: “This strike was not about piracy, it was against bad legislation. Sometimes there is too much power in government and it is a bad thing, so don't do it.”

Asked by RSA Conference program committee chairman Hugh Thompson if that power wielded by Wikipedia on 18th January could be done so again, Wales said that there was an 80 per cent vote in favour of the blackout within Wikipedia and he said it was important to blackout globally, as it would have ramifications globally.

He said: “We should not get involved in general political issues, there are no firm resources. we are only interested in freedom of speech and openness of the internet.”