Amid significant pressure from tens of thousands of internet users and major web behemoths like Google, Facebook, and Reddit, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is, in its current form, Dead on Arrival:
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.
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.”
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.
Sponsored primarily by purported free speech advocates that include democrats and republicans alike, the SOPA would have fundamentally transformed the internet as we know it today. As Daisy Luther writes at Inalienably Yours, the bill was nothing short of a direct attack against the first Amendment and the right to free speech:
On closer inspection, the legalese in the bill has the potential to eviscerate free speech….and like NDAA, without proof…only with suspicion of “wrong-doing”. It’s all about copyright infringement. If you tick off the powers that be, and you’ve quoted someone, somewhere, saying something, you may have infringed on their copyright. As a defendant, you are not even present at the legal proceeding allowing “them” to shut you down until you prove yourself innocent.
How do they shut you down? Search engines are required to remove you from their listings. Internet Service Providers can be ordered to block access to your site. Advertising networks and payment providers can also be forced to cease doing business with you. This continues until you are proven INNOCENT. Wait – I thought it was innocent until proven guilty….oh….that was “before” the NDAA.
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