Amid Voter Outrage, Lawmakers Backpedal on SOPA/PIPA; Upcoming Hearing Canceled

The past few days have seen some positive steps in the fight against SOPA and PIPA, the bills that many critics worry could lead to widespread Internet censorship, amid other problems.

As the site Ars Technica reports, lawmakers have started backpedalling like crazy on the legislation after realizing that voters are outraged.

The public outcry over the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act seems to have gotten so loud that even members of Congress can hear it. On Thursday we covered the news that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was expressing second thoughts about SOPA's DNS provisions. He said he changed his mind after he "heard from a number of Vermonters" on the issue.

On Friday, several Republicans started backpedaling as well.

SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced that he would be pulling the DNS-blocking provisions from his own bill. “After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision," Smith said in a Friday statement.

Meanwhile, six GOP senators who served on the Senate Judiciary Committee (which unanimously approved the legislation last year) wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking him to postpone a vote on PIPA to give them more time to study the legislation.

And in even better news, today Darrell Issa, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced that a hearing scheduled for this Wednesday will be postponed. "While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House," 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."

These announcements come after cyber-activist group Anonymous released the personal information of media executives who were pushing for the legislation. Major websites also continue to oppose the bills; among them is Craigslist, which has devoted part of its homepage to an anti-SOPA/PIPA message.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 14, 2012, 6:06am

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