|Lamar Smith: fighting to censor the Net|
Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
I must admit, I was excited when I read that the House Judiciary Committee was postponing wrapping up the markup process of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which I have previously shown to be a wildly dangerous bill.
Many observers, myself included, assumed that Lamar Smith would continue to push the Judiciary Committee in the SOPA markup process until they could muster a vote.
I believed that they would continue to press on even if it meant extending their session late into the night, but I was clearly wrong.
Smith adjourned the debate, which continued past 9 PM, despite what The Hill called, “his intent to plow ahead with the bill regardless of the objections and concerns raised.”
The Hill points out that an extended delay will likely be a boon for the many opponents to SOPA who have been rallying support and informing the public, especially amongst the online community.
They rightly point out that not only does SOPA have strong support on the House Judiciary Committee from both parties, but also some powerful lobbies as well.
They briefly mention these “influential interests” which have been behind the constant push of SOPA and the sister legislation, the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA.
The Hill includes “the entertainment industry, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and organized labor,” but this minimizes just how powerful and massive the pro-SOPA/PIPA lobby really is.
Some of the other influential interests include, the National Governors Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Conference of Legislatures, the National Association of Attorneys General, the Better Business Bureau, the AFL-CIO along with over 20 other unions, the National Consumers league, and many major corporations.
This backing is daunting, to say the least, but the true internet pioneers stand united in opposition to the draconian SOPA/PIPA legislation.
As I have previously noted, the opposition to the bill includes internet giants like, “Facebook, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Twitter, Craigslist, Flickr, PayPal, Reddit, AOL, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Tumblr and others.”
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They all point to the fact that SOPA will stifle creativity and innovation on the internet, one of the few sectors of the American economy that couldn’t be easily shipped overseas or regulated out of existence – until now.
Unfortunately it appears that the proponents are winning, at least that is the impression given by The Hill in writing, “The legislation still appears likely to pass the Judiciary Committee by a two-to-one margin.”
Hardly a comforting thought for those of us who value the freedom of the internet and the ability to operate our websites without fear of being targeted for harassment or shutdown.
TechDirt published that with Smith bringing the meetings to a close, they likely wouldn’t begin the discussions again “until late January.”
They, like me, considered it a representation of “a very brief, but significant, victory for those in favor of internet freedom and against internet censorship in the US.”
They rightly point out that the pro-SOPA/PIPA lobby is not going to stop pushing “very, very, very hard” to get it passed as hastily as possible, just as all destructive legislation is pushed through before people can properly analyze and debate it, as evidenced by the PATRIOT Act.
TechDirt also seems to share my amazement at how quickly the grassroots opposition to this censorship legislation has cropped up and how an otherwise obscure issue has been brought to the forefront with alacrity.
They point to the constantly growing popular opposition which is coming from wildly varied sectors and is only increasing in strength as the days go by.
This is likely why the Judiciary Committee decided to continue the markup this coming Wednesday, instead of allowing a break and thus additional time for the opposition to gain support by making the reality of this restrictive legislation known to the public.
Instead of convening in late January as they would have otherwise, they will be making the rather unusual decision to return next week, which is odd given that the corrupt politicians in Washington tend to do everything possible to avoid actually working.
TechDirt points to this ad evidence of “just how desperate Hollywood is to pass this bill as quickly as possible, before the momentum of opposition builds up even further.”
I just hope that the realization of what this legislation really means will begin to reach a kind of critical mass and grow exponentially from there.
If not, we will see yet another liberty-stripping bill get disgusting levels of support from our so-called Representatives who continue to do a bang-up job of proving that they work for their corporate financiers and not the people of the United States.