If you need to consult Wikipedia on Wednesday you’re out of luck. The founder, Jimmy Wales, has called for an online protest against the bills that are currently making their way through the US senate called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). He proposes a “day of darkness” where search engines and social media websites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter join Wikipedia in taking the sites down for a twenty four hour period.

The acts were presented as a way of protecting the film and music industry from piracy. They focus on the fact that illegal streaming sites can still be found through these websites. It aims to shift the responsibility of monitoring piracy onto the websites and even internet providers rather than law enforcement agencies. This would mean closer tabs being kept on user content and uploads as well as the shutting down of foreign rogue websites.

The day of darkness will mean all English Language sections of Wikipedia will be down throughout the day along with other supporting websites such as the user generated news site Reddit and the blog Boing Boing. Although Twitter have said they will not take part in the protest, Google have revealed that they will protest using their homepage. A link will be posted along side the company logo to show their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA bills.

Protesters believe that the bills will inhibit freedom of speech and have devastating effects on the free and open web. They plan to flood social media sites with links to the bills to protest despite the fact the sites themselves aren’t.  Apple, Adobe and Dell are among the tech companies that support the bill.

There are many different opinions flying about on this topic from calling the protests silly publicity stunts to powerful tools in making political points. But there are also many questions raised; whether 1984 is no longer fictional, whether the battle against piracy will ever be won and most importantly, would we really be able to survive without Facebook for a day?