Source: Online protest threatens piracy bill
January 17th, 2012
07:25 PM ET
10 years ago

Source: Online protest threatens piracy bill

Washington (CNN) - The growing Internet protest–including a planned blackout by some websites Wednesday– against an online anti-piracy bill moving through Congress is "daunting," a Senate Democratic aide said Tuesday.

The aide said the protest may be powerful enough to keep senators from voting to even take up the bill that until recently commanded rare bipartisan support.

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"Before it looked like it would pass with 80 votes, and now [the online protest] looks like something that will suck the votes away," the aide said. "We're at a tipping point. It will either become a huge issue or die down a bit and that will determine the future of this."

The aide said it was premature to say exactly how it will play out but acknowledged that because of protest from Internet mainstays like Google and Wikipedia "the merits of the bill are getting lost" and "sand is shifting pretty quickly" against it.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, is weighing changes to the bill to address concerns in the online community. In particular, he is considering dropping a provision that would impose new requirements on Internet service providers.

Senate Democratic leaders scheduled the bill as the first order of business when the Senate returns to work next week. They considered it one key part of their overall job creation agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was open to changes to satisfy critics.

In a letter last week to GOP senators concerned about the bill, Reid acknowledged the bill "is not perfect" but said it would "protect American ingenuity and commerce" and is "too important to delay."

"It's tough to believe that after another week of this we're going to be able to get cloture [the 60 votes needed to take up the bill], so that would settle it for the immediate term," the Senate Democratic aide said.

Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, who is leading the effort to move a bill in the House, criticized efforts by the bill's opponents to mount the blackout on Wednesday.

"This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts," Smith said in written statement Tuesday.

Smith has already agreed to make changes to his legislation in response to concerns by opponents. His statement stressed that the House bill "only targets foreign websites that are primarily dedicated to illegal activity. It does not grant the Justice Department the authority to seek a court order to shut down any website operated in the U.S."

California Rep. Darrell Issa, who is pushing his own legislation as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, cancelled a hearing scheduled Wednesday on the problems that Google and others have with the bill.

But in a statement Friday, Issa said, "Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote."

Despite signals from House GOP leaders that the bill won't be scheduled for a vote until some of the controversial provisions are worked out, Smith announced that his committee plans to consider the bill early next month.

Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation.

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Filed under: Congress • Democrats • Republicans
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Zack

    Very important to the future of the internet. Oppose SOPA and protect the Internet from censorship of the Internet by the USA.

    January 18, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. Zack

    -Very important to the future of the internet. Oppose SOPA and protect the Internet from censorship of the Internet by the USA.

    January 18, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  3. Linda

    Disgusts me that this is even an issue at this point and time. The nation and world are such a perfect place that THIS is Congress' only worry!!! STOP!!!!!

    January 18, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  4. PTByrd

    Seems the tides are turning and rightfully so . . . thank you Wiki, Google and the rest who really get what this whole SOPA thing is about. The "evil-doers" in Washington D.C. just can't trample on our rights enough to satisfy themselves. It'll become crystal clear to them come November!

    January 18, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |

    People, beware. This is how a tyranny moves in and wraps its tentacles around its people. Pair the SOPA legislation with the provisions of the NDAA that allow for the Indefinite Detention of American citizens and you have a

    January 18, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  6. Dave Mowers

    Here we go again, capitalism working in conjunction with industry which is fascism. We fought a war to stop the spread of this anti-Democratic form of government but here we are seventy years later still having to fight for human rights. Not everything is about money and wealth it is time Congress quit doing anything. They don't represent the people at all. We should throw out all laws every one hundred years and start over except of course for the Constitution which Congress, the Senate and our Presidents ignore. Vote in 2012 for someone who will end fascist government abuse.


    January 18, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  7. 28mAmerican

    Crotch chops CNN and parent company for supporting this rubbish.

    January 18, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  8. Cainsworth

    Until these proposed changes are written in, I don't think the big unruly mob that is a pissed off internet has much to discuss with the gentleman from texas.

    January 18, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  9. no puffy comment

    so your telling me that us runs the www this is a issue that the europen nations need to adress not home land security
    this tell me that the united states run the world> so if i post somkething on a social web page and home land security does not like it they can take a way my life of learning on the net that fall under the human right laws & privicy laws yes they watch me because i found thing on my pc hackers were using my net connection i reported this to the proper athorties and guess what my life got worse that right home land security and the goverment where i live so big busniess and the us goverment run the world shame on you you are not god

    January 18, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  10. Tony

    I love how every bill is too important to delay nowadays.

    January 18, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  11. Jon Welch

    SOPA and PIPA are incredibly dangerous to the future of the Internet.... finally the message is getting through!

    January 18, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  12. Lost A. Viewer

    "Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation."

    For this, you have lost my views on both your web site, and your television channel. Shame on you.

    January 18, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  13. Alex

    Hey big corporations, it's our internet, not yours!

    January 18, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  14. Alexander King

    Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian on CNBC: "Why is it that when Republicans and Democrats need to solve the budget and the deficit, there's deadlock, but when Hollywood lobbyists pay them $94 million dollars to write legislation, people from both sides of the aisle line up to co-sponsor it?"

    January 18, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  15. James Hammett

    This article seems extremely 1 sides, you do not interview any of the people of opponents the bill or even provide any type of detailed explanation of there issues.

    In additon you fail to mentions that the opposition is from both the Left and the Right and make it appear that it is the Republicans that are opposihng this. You OMIT Lamar Smiths Party affiliation but list the Democratic Senator's. (While tarring the Replicans in the Senate as the opposition.


    January 18, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  16. Rob D

    "Reid acknowledged the bill "is not perfect" but said it ....", why not. It should be perfect or not at all. The bar for everbody else is perfection. engineering, medical, banks, driving, sports, education, everything has the goal of making it the best and work for all. Too many bils are not perfect and that is with causes problems. Reid, set your standard a little higher than "is not perfect". That just sounds second rate, a half job, less that what it could have beem. Come on become a Statesman.

    January 18, 2012 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  17. nifongnation

    Can't the congress simply go home and stay home?

    January 18, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  18. Sarah

    Hollywood wants ISPs to act as cops and police the web on their behalf. Sorry, no dice. The Entertainment industry can do the same thing the rest of us must do if we believe our property has been stolen.

    January 18, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  19. James Hammett

    [Sorry noticed several typos in the first version]

    The article seems extremely 1 sided. You do not interview any of the opponents of the Bill or even provide any type of concise explanations of the the issues they have with it.

    In addition, you fail to mention that the opposition for the Bill is from the Left and Right and the article makes it appear that the Bill is opposed solely by the Republicans. You OMIT Lamar Smith's Party affiliation, but list the that of the Democratic Senator's, who support it.

    These little tweaks make it appear that this is a Republican/Democrat fight and obscure the issue instead of explaining it.


    January 18, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  20. Jes

    We have criminals that dont represent the people but their pockets. We will hold any senator voting for this accountable for the rest of their crony careers.

    January 18, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  21. Andi

    Another legislation eroding the freedom of the internet and the freedom of speech. I have worked and lived with the internet for more than 22 years (yes, you are reading right). This is one of the final pushes to bury what made the internet great.

    January 18, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  22. klg1956

    If the government gets it mitts on the Internet, we all know what the outcome will will be the total opposite of what they think they were going to accomplish due to unintended consequences, something they never project but are notorious for. Congressional idiots thought subprime lending was a good idea....the unintended consequence is what your home and pension fund is worth now and over the next decade..........they thought McCain-Feingold was a great idea.....limit money in politics...there's more money now than ever before in campaigns...the total opposite of what they were going for....these guys think they are doing something "wonderful" until they crap up everything they touch and then blame everybody but themselves.

    January 18, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  23. googooyou

    These online companies are effectively saying that they should have all the power, and they should be the ones who censor, that they are the last say in what information you get or don't get. It is quite hypocritical for Wiki to be against censorship or say that is takes a neutral position when by closing down it is censoring and it is taking a position. I guess Google, or lay Americans, seem to forget that Google censors in countries like China as well as removing the "s" out of https in some countries. What would Google do if someone posted its search algorythm or any of these companies' proprietary technology do if someone posted the information on line? What these companies should do is be a part of the solution by making these bills better, which none of them seem have done by making suggestions on how to make the bills better. Instead, they seem to be protesting something they would quickly censor if their information was freely available.

    January 18, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  24. Josh Hines

    Clearly, a majority of the average Americans are against this bill. What is a democracy for if our elected representatives do not listen to what we are saying and instead try to tell us what is for our own good. Just because we buy most of our stuff from China, doesn't mean we have to act like China.

    January 18, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  25. Matt

    "Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation."
    Way to stay objective.

    January 18, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
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