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115,000 websites join Internet protest: US lawmakers step back

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

January 19, 2012 | 3 min read

As many as 115,000 websites - up from an initial estimate of 60,000 - joined the protest against proposed new American laws by either blacking out their sites or posting messages, warning that the legislation could damage the Internet and threaten free speech. The protest was said to be the biggest in the Web's history.

Blacked-out Wikipedia

The figures were were reported on Thursday as US lawmakers who had supported the bills, SOPA and PIPA, took a step back .

The number of Senators supporting PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) , originally 40, halved as 20 withdrew their support . Six senators who had co-sponsored the bill removed their names from it. The SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) lost three of its 31 supporters in the House of Representatives.

The laws were supposedly aimed at curbing online piracy but the struggle was generally reported as Hollywood versus the online world.

The Internet protest was unprecedented, said Adweek magazine. The figures came from came from a spokeswoman for Fight for the Future, one of the organisers of the protest.

Consumers rushed to send messages to their U.S. representatives, causing some congressional websites to temporarily shut down. Some lawmakers even blacked out their congressional sites in solidarity.

Senator John Boozman announce his changed position on his Facebook page, crediting the public outcry .

"I can say, with all honesty, that the feedback I received has been overwhelmingly in opposition to the Senate bill [PIPA] in its current form. That is why I am announcing today that I intend to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act."

However, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has yet to back down on his promise to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote next week.

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