Victory for Internet Freedom: US Congress Shelves SOPA Bill

16th January 2012

By Steve Benenwashingtonmonthly.com

The Protect IP Act and Stop Online Piracy Act have generated intense opposition because of their crackdown on Internet freedom–and that opposition just won big.

Misguided efforts to combat online privacy have been threatening to stifle innovation, suppress free speech, and even, in some cases, undermine national security. As of yesterday, though, there’s a lot less to worry about.

At issue are two related bills: the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the even more offensive Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, both of which are generated intense opposition from tech giants and First Amendment advocates. The first sign that the bills’ prospects were dwindling came Friday, when SOPA sponsors agreed to drop a key provision that would have required service providers to block access to international sites accused of piracy.

The legislation ran into an even more significant problem yesterday when the White House announced its opposition to the bills. Though the administration’s chief technology officials officials acknowledged the problem of online privacy, the White House statement presented a fairly detailed critique of the measures and concluded, “We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” It added that any proposed legislation “must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet.”

Until now, the Obama administration had not taken a position on the issue. The response was published yesterday as part of the online “We The People” petition initiative launched by the White House last year.

Though the administration did issue a formal veto threat, the White House’s opposition signaled the end of these bills, at least in their current form.

A few hours later, Congress shelved SOPA, putting off action on the bill indefinitely.

 

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) unless there is consensus on the bill.

“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said in a statement. “Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”

 

It’s possible that a related version of SOPA could come back at some point down the road — though probably not this year — but for now, the push against the bill has succeeded beautifully.
 


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  • Augui

    Hell yeah!!

  • Jenn

    PIPA is still an issue. Write to your congresspeople today to urge them to oppose Internet censorship now and in the future.

  • Mick

    Unfortunately, the White House and Obama also stated that they were opposed to the NDAA because of the “indefinite detention” articles. Obama threatened a veto. And yet, late December 31st, while most of the rest of the country was ringing in the New Year, many with alcohol, he quietly signed it into law. Remain vigilant. We have not seen the last of S.O.P.A.. It may well pop up as an unrelated attachment to some other bill, perhaps a budgetary one, and be quietly and quickly rammed through.

  • Steve

    Mick is exactly right. REMAIN VIGILANT! They will sneak a bill by us when we least expect it. Congress is OWNED by corporations. Period. And corporations want internet censorship. They want total control of the internet. With things the way they are in this country, they’ll have it sooner or later.

  • Cristine Suppa

    We are going to suffer a loss of the web if we don’t get up and protest against SOPA and ACTA.

  • Luther Willick

    We are at a most crucial period in the development of the internet. We will have to halt both ACTA and SOPA from turning into law if we are to keep our freedoms. Life will not be the same again if these laws are enacted.

  • Jamee Bleakley

    SOPA was first and next we have ACTA that is to be very much stricter in Europe principally. If you use You tube, Facebook or have ever previously shared a music clip you will soon be a criminal.

  • Elden Collinsworth

    “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA are related to world-wide internet freedom of speech, China way. Just enter SOPA into Yahoo and google and inform yourself about that and fight against it. Everybody will be damaged critically by it.