Under voter pressure, members of Congress backpedal (hard) on SOPA
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.”
The current plan for the full Senate to consider the bill on January 24 “may not permit us to work through many of the concerns that have been raised,” they warned.