Wiktory? Key sponsors abandon SOPA/PIPA after web blackout
Published: 19 January, 2012, 18:54
Edited: 19 January, 2012, 20:55
Opposition to the controversial SOPA/PIPA legislation has caused a major stir among US lawmakers on both sides of the house, with 18 Senators, including seven co-sponsors, turning their backs on the legislation.
The turnaround by Senators who had previously supported the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), spearheaded by the by movie and music industries, puts the total number of Senators publicly opposing the bill at 25. Another 13 Senators are leaning toward opposition.
The number of Senators openly supporting the bill has dropped to 33. Of the 25 Senators opposing the legislation, 17 are Republicans and eight are Democrats.
The withdrawal of support came in the wake of Wednesday’s Internet blackout.
Politicians who abandoned SOPA as the strike hit include Republicans Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Ben Cardin and Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ben Cardin. Orrin Hatch of Utah announced on his Facebook page that he acknowledges that intellectual property theft is a “real and growing problem” that must be “combated”, but added that he cannot support the PIPA legislation as it currently stands.
“Rushing something with such potential for far-reaching consequences is something I cannot support and that is why I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my co-sponsorship of the bill,” Orrin Hatch said.
He added that legislators should allow time for the both sides in the conflict to come together and “find a reasonable solution”.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida also posted a message on his Facebook page saying he was in favor of combating piracy but believed doing so must not stifle innovation in a dynamic and open Internet. He urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor and instead called on Senators to “take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.”
Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire posted her message on Twitter: “I'm pulling my support bc your concerns deserve consideration before Congress moves fwd.” Missouri Senator Roy Blunt also announced his change of heart via a Tweet: “We can find a solution that will protect lawful content. But this bill is flawed & that's why I'm withdrawing my support.”
The SOPA and PIPA bills are largely viewed as a means to crack down on out-of-the-US websites involved in violating intellectual property legislation.According to supporters of the bills, SOPA and PIPA will help protect jobs in the film and music industries.
In turn, those opposing the legislation, among them Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, believe that it will have irreversible and far-reaching consequences, including for the economy and innovation.
“The Internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page. “We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the Internet's development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the Internet.”
A number of other popular Internet resources signaled their opposition to the bills on Wednesday, and many joined words and actions.
The Internet’s largest reference tool, Wikipedia, went black for 24 hours to protest the legislation, while Google blacked out its logo in US, directing people to a page where they could sign a petition against the bills. Google said the initiative had gathered some 4.5 million voices.