Web 'Blackout' Weakens Support On Internet Piracy Bills
January 18, 2012 at 12:08 PM (PT)
Companion legislation that would give the government the power to shut down any website that was alleged to have links to illegally-posted copywritten content are losing Congressional support, as WIKIPEDIA and thousands of websites blacked out their pages in protest, the L.A. TIMES reports.
Sen. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL.) withdrew as a co-sponsor of the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate, while Reps. LEE TERRY (R-NE) and BEN QUAYLE (R-AZ.) were about to pull their names from the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House. after the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed its bill last year, RUBIO wrote on his FACEBOOK page that he has "heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet ... Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences."
Parties against the legislation, primarily large Internet interests, assert that the bills' broad definitions could lead to censorship of online content and force some websites to shut down. WIKIPEDIA, REDDIT and about 10,000 other websites are blacking out their pages TODAY with messages warning of the dangers of the legislation and urging people to contact their congressional representatives.
The bills still have considerable support in each Chamber, although their language is prompting more representatives to call think twice about voting for them. Although the Senate bill still has 39 co-sponsors, six Senate Republicans sent a letter to Sen. HARRY REID (D-NV), urging him delay the vote.
In the House, TERRY and QUAYLE's withdrawal from the bill still leaves 29 co-sponsors -- and QUAYLE still supports the original goal of the bill -- to crack down on foreign websites that traffic in pirated movies, music, medicine and other goods.
"The bill could have some unintended consequences that need to be addressed," a QUAYLE spokesman said. "Basically it needs more work before he can support it."
Want to watch a simple explanation of the issue? CNN has one here.