January 19, 2012
Following widespread protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), a number of members of Congress have declared they will no longer support the internet censorship legislation.
Senate Republicans are in full retreat fearing a political backlash. Roy Blunt, Orrin Hatch, John Boozman, Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley, Mark Kirk, and Jim DeMint dropped their support.
John Cornyn of Texas said the legislation should be put on hold while DeMint said in a tweet any legislation directed against online piracy “must not undermine free speech, threaten economic growth or impose burdensome regulations.”
Hatch, Rubio, Blunt and Boozman were sponsors of the Senate bill.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul went beyond rhetoric and pledged to oppose both SOPA and PIPA. “I will not sit idly by while PIPA and SOPA eliminate the constitutionally protected rights to due process and free speech. For these reasons, I have pledged to oppose, filibuster and do everything in my power to stop government censorship of the Internet,” he declared.
In the House, Reps. Jim McDermott, Patty Murray, Rick Larsen, Adam Smith, Jay Inslee, and Norm Dicks opposed the legislation.
Despite the theatrics in response to massive opposition, Congress will be forced to show its true colors next Tuesday when PIPA comes up for a cloture vote in the Senate. A cloture vote will end debate and force an immediate vote on the legislation.
4.5 million people signed a Google petition opposing the legislation on Wednesday and Congress was deluged with hundreds of thousands of emails. Countless websites either went dark for the day or showed support by masking out logos and posting statements. Protesters held rallies in Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
Former Senator Chris Dodd, now CEO and chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, released a statement calling the protests a “gimmick” and “an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services.”
“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging,” Dodd said.