Protesting is so 2011, but that doesn't stop Wikipedia from blacking out their entire English-language site today to protest two pieces of proposed US legislation. Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director posted an open letter to the public on Monday claiming that these laws "would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia."
The first is circulating around the House of Representatives and is called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Basically, the goal of this bill is to restrict access to sites hosting pirated content and therefore decrease copyright infringement on the web. It's hard for US companies to target our favorite foreign sites that host illegal movies, tv shows and music. So, SOPA aims to discourage advertisers from placing ads on the sites as well as flag certain links so they don't appear in search engine results on sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Opponents of the bill say it's essentially promoting censorship and becomes a slippery slope if we free-speech-loving Americans are denied access to even a single site on the web.
The second bill, PIPA or the Protect IP Act (IP meaning Intellectual Property) is much further along in the Senate, and could be voted on as early at the 24th. It also discourages the illegal copying and distribution of movies, music and writing without payment to the creators. Obviously, we don't want people stealing and copying our stuff all over the internet, but many say the poorly-written bills leave too many loopholes that can censor non-pirating sites and put legit companies out of business.
Wikipedia is probably the most major, but not the only website to protest. Last year, over 6,000 sites participated in "American Censorship Day" including Tumblr and Mozilla Firefox. Many other sites across the web are also protesting and/or shutting down again today (January 18th). Twitter, Google and Facebook have all voiced opposition to the bills, but are still operational.