Obama Sends SOPA Back To Censorship Hell

Jan 16 2012 Published by under Featured News

With the announcement today that President Obama’s opposition to SOPA has killed the bill, the Internet awaits the demise of its Senate companion, PIPA.

SOPA opponent Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) confirmed today that the Obama administration’s opposition to SOPA has killed the bill, “The voice of the internet community has been heard. Much more education for members of Congress about the workings of the internet is essential if anti-piracy legislation is to be workable and achieve broad appeal.”

In Congressional speak what Issa is saying is that Obama’s opposition to SOPA means that John Boehner no longer has the votes to pass the bill. The joining together of Democrats and tea partiers means that the votes aren’t there to pass SOPA. After taking a public shellacking on the payroll tax extension, House Republicans are also reluctant to give Obama another victory in an election year. Obama and public opposition to SOPA has made the bill too toxic for the House to take up.

After Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments on Meet The Press yesterday where he tried to sell, the Senate companion legislation to SOPA (PIPA) as job saving and job creation, activists should still be on high alert. There were signs in Reid’s comments yesterday that his position was also shifting due to White House opposition. Reid has gone from there being a firm vote on January 24 to hoping that there will be a manager’s amendment available in a week to ten days. Sen. Reid also make remarks saying in effect that he was going to fix the bill.

The problem is that PIPA can’t be fixed. As the White House wrote over the weekend, “New legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity. Any provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks, payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing.”

The Obama administration is also advocating for a narrow legislative response to piracy, and for the industry to come up with their own measures to protect intellectual property.

The House refusal to vote on SOPA is a sign that, unlike other previous showdowns, they know that they can’t get past the president on this one. Just like with the payroll tax extension, the Obama administration has made it clear that there will be no negotiations, compromises, or reworking of this bill.

I rarely agree with the tea party supporting ultra-conservative Rep. Issa on anything, but on SOPA he is correct. We can’t let a bunch of Internet illiterate members of Congress make policy on this issue. There are members of Congress who are supporting this bill who have no idea what the real world ramifications of its enactment would be.

When the Obama administration joined the opposition over the weekend, they effectively killed SOPA. The Internet protests were effective in getting the White House’s attention, but now both the White House and the Internet must join together to stop PIPA. The Senate moves more slowly than the House, which is good news for opponents of PIPA, because it means that they have time.

The pro-censorship forces are falling apart, and I suspect that one anti-PIPA public statement from President Obama would be enough to dash the Internet censorship dreams of corporate America.

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