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SOPA Support Goes Sour

SOPA Support Goes Sour

The Stop Internet Piracy Act is losing friends fast as website protests Wednesday directed the public's attention toward the proposed legislation. Sites like Google ran home-page links to information on SOPA, and sites like Wikipedia blacked out for the day in protest. Some members of congress have said the bill is as good as dead.

By Richard Adhikari
01/19/12 5:00 AM PT

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) appears to be reeling in the face of growing opposition.

Internet heavyweights like Wikipedia, Google and Facebook have demonstrated their opposition to the proposed legislation, in some cases protesting by temporarily blocking users from accessing content.

A broad swathe of organizations from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum have come out against SOPA, and antipathy to the legislation appears to be growing.

Meanwhile, some members of congress have reportedly begun pulling their support for the bill. It could be that the growing opposition has forced some lawmakers to rethink their positions.

The high-tech industry has also held several briefings recently for congress regarding the bill, which may have led some lawmakers to change their stances.

"The legislation is well-intentioned, and I would personally like to think that anyone who is withdrawing support has thought about the issue more deeply and has some new concerns that they'd like to address," Meg Marco, executive editor of The Consumerist, told TechNewsWorld.

Lawmakers Lollop Off Into SOPA Sunset

Lawmakers such as Representative Lee Terry and Senator Ben Cardin have reportedly said they'll withdraw their backing for SOPA.

Further, Rep. Justin Amash has expressed support for the anti-SOPA online blackout on his Facebook page, and Congressman Bob Latta opposes the legislation.

Representative Dennis Ross tweeted that SOPA is dead. "I will not support SOPA if this headlong rush continues," he added. Rep. Rush Holt tweeted that the legislation will not have his vote.

High-Tech Players Clobber SOPA

Many Internet players have made no bones about their opposition to SOPA.

Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing have blacked out their sites; Google has blacked out its logo on its home page; Mozilla has darkened the start page for its Firefox browser and included a call to action; Facebook has criticized the bill; and Craigslist steered users to a page with a black background bearing a message on the issue in white, for example.

On Wednesday, a protest was reportedly held outside the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Web players have also actively worked to educate congress. On Tuesday, Scribd, Craigslist, Reddit and top executives from other technology companies held a briefing for lawmakers.

Non-Techies Can Play, Too

Groups outside the tech industry are also up in arms against SOPA.

Heritage Action, a nonprofit advocacy group aligned with the conservative Heritage Foundation, has stated its opposition. Campaign finance watchdogs Public Campaign and Public Campaign Action Fund have blacked out their sites in protest against SOPA.

The White House has already come out against the proposed legislation.

Complaints against SOPA "are more matters of policy than technology," Richard Bennett, a senior research fellow at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), told TechNewsWorld.

ITIF contends that the technology behind SOPA is sound.

The People Are Speaking

Demand Progress and Don't Censor The Net have jointly launched VoteForTheNet.com to back candidates who oppose SOPA.

More than 30,000 people are claimed to have pledged to use their votes to defeat attempts to censor the Internet within the first 12 hours of the new site's launch.

Demand Progress is left-leaning and Don't Censor the Net right-leaning, but that makes no difference to them.

"I would like to see our government in general become more well-versed on technology issues, and I hope this bi-partisan effort [to oppose SOPA] has been educational both to them and to consumers," Consumerist.com's Marco remarked.


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