The Stop Online Piracy Act would effectively kill the free Internet. It has enjoyed near-universal support in Congress, but the American people are not nearly as keen—and now, their voices are being heard.
The public outcry over the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act seems to have gotten so loud that even members of Congress can hear it. On Thursday we covered the news that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was expressing second thoughts about SOPA’s DNS provisions. He said he changed his mind after he “heard from a number of Vermonters” on the issue.
On Friday, several Republicans started backpedaling as well.
SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced that he would be pulling the DNS-blocking provisions from his own bill. “After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision,” Smith said in a Friday statement.
Meanwhile, six GOP senators who served on the Senate Judiciary Committee (which unanimously approved the legislation last year) wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking him to postpone a vote on PIPA to give them more time to study the legislation.
“We strongly believe that the theft of American intellectual property is a significant problem that must be addressed,” they wrote. But since the Judiciary Committee last considered the legislation, “we have increasingly heard from a large number of constituents and other stakeholders with vocal concerns about possible unintended consequences of the proposed legislation, including breaches in cybersecurity, damaging the integrity of the Internet, costly and burdensome litigation, and dilution of First Amendment rights.”
[...] Another member of Congress that has been feeling the heat from voters is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). After reddit members raised $15,000 in 48 hours for his anti-SOPA challenger, Ryan came out with a clear statement of opposition to the legislation.
“It appears that lawmakers are beginning to realize how much damage their anti-’piracy’ bills could cause to the Internet and to Internet-related businesses,” said Public Knowledge’s Sherwin Siy in a statement. “While we are pleased that some progress is being made, we are also firm in our opposition to both bills because some very bad provisions remain.”
Emphasis copyeditor’s. Read more at Ars Technica.
(Not specifically Occupy-related, but this pushback is very much in the spirit of the protests. —Ed.)