White House Responds to Criticism of Online Piracy Legislation
In response to tens of thousands of signatures on various petitions, 50,000+ on one petition alone, the White House has released a statement on what parts of the Stop online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) it will support.
The main area of concern is a provision allowing the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to get a court order that would require Internet service providers to block access for their subscribers to foreign sites who are charged with copyright infringement by the DOJ. Earlier revisions of the bill had not differentiated between foreign and domestic sites, but that has since been changed.
Some feel that the bill does not stop piracy as intended and runs the risk of infringing on freedom of speech rights. Others have even gone so far as saying the acts, if passed as they are, could effectively break the Internet.
The Obama administration has asked that a vote on the legislation be put on hold until the issue could be discussed further. So far, there has been a total of one hearing on the controversial SOPA, and no technical experts were present at that hearing. And while it is generally agreed that putting a stop to Internet piracy, especially in foreign countries, is of utmost priority, there is also a general consensus that other options should be discussed.
The outcry by constituents has given lawmakers pause and might even be swaying their opinion. For its part, the administration has suggested a conference call between those who oppose the bill, especially the organizers of the petition and a cross-section of signatories, and government officials. All parties involved hope that other solutions, acceptable to all, can be developed.
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