A key U.S. senator withdrew his support for SOPA Jan. 18.

Syracuse University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) joined several of the web’s most visited sites, including Wikipedia, in a partial blackout to speak out against pending anti-piracy legislation that critics say could curtail internet freedom in the U.S.

Visitors to the homepages of MIT’s admissions office and Syracuse University’s School of Information – known as the iSchool – Jan. 18 were confronted with information about the House of Representative’s Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), both of which have received bipartisan support as a way to curb online piracy.

Many in higher education have said in recent weeks that SOPA could have a long lasting impact on college and university websites.

If those sites are suspected of being complicit in sharing copyrighted information, the government would have legal authority to shut down the site.

Such a move would hit online students hardest, educators said, because they often log into vital course information through the school’s official web portal.

An MIT admissions official said the university would have to shut down entire portions of its website if SOPA becomes law.

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