Resisting Censorship: SOPA, PIPA, and How Congress Started Caring More About Corporate Interests than Free Speech

by Matthew L. Schafer

As the web goes dark, many people may be wondering why.  Of course, it is obvious now: SOPA and PIPA, the bills currently being considered by Congress that opponents say will amount to censorship online.  In order to learn more, feel free to visit the LWR links below about SOPA, PIPA, and free speech online.

Below is a list of congressmen recently changing their stance on PIPA or SOPA or announcing for the first time their opposition to the bills.  (Updated: 9:07 PM EST).  Please visit OpenCongress for a contextual list.

Sen. David Vitter [R-La.]: “I won’t be supporting the Protect IP Act (PIPA or SOPA as it’s called in the House of Representatives) because, though I’ve been pushing hard on both internet freedom and national security concerns, they still haven’t been fully addressed. It’s a real mistake to press forward with a flawed bill now.”

Sen. Olympia Snow [R-Me.]: “As Senator Snowe reviews this wide-ranging legislation she has concerns that we cannot have a federal overreach of authority that would hamper innovation or compromise the inherent openness and freedom that are part and parcel of the Internet,” an aide said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R-Alaska]: “PIPA was envisioned as a way to fight intellectual property theft online, but the bill raises serious concerns about our civil liberties. That’s why next week I plan to oppose the current PIPA bill.”

Sen. James Inhoff [R-Ok.]: “While I believe that the intellectual property rights of American companies deserve substantial protection under the law, S. 968, the PROTECT-IP Act, is not the answer to the problem of online counterfeiting and piracy.”

Sen. Jim DeMint [R. SC]: “I support intellectual property rights, but I oppose SOPA & PIPA. They’re misguided bills that will cause more harm than good.”

Sen. John Boozman [R-Ark.]: “The PROTECT IP Act seeks to address an issue that is of vital importance to the future of intellectual property rights in the modern era. However, the concerns regarding the unintended consequences of this particular bill are legitimate.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-Ut.]: “After listening to the concerns on both sides of the debate over the PROTECT IP Act, it is simply not ready for prime time.”

Sen. Mark Kirk [D-Il.]: “Freedom of speech is an inalienable right granted to each and every American, and the Internet has become the primary tool with which we utilize this right. . . . While we should protect American intellectual property, consumer safety and human rights, we should do so in a manner that specifically targets criminal activity.  [PIPA] stifles First Amendment rights and Internet innovation. I stand with those who stand for freedom and oppose PROTECT IP, S.968, in its current form.”

Sen. Mark Udall [D-Col.]: “[U]nfortunately, provisions in PIPA appear to create unintended consequences that could stifle U.S. innovation, limit Americans’ free speech rights, increase the risk of cyber-attacks, and undermine how the Internet functions.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley [D-Or.]: “We can’t endanger an open Internet.”

Sen. Scott Brown [R-Ma.]: “I’m going to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA.  The Internet is too important to our economy.”

Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Fl.]: “I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act.”

Sen. John Cornyn [R-Tx.]: “Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about the internet and free speech necessitate a more thoughtful, deliberative process.”

Sen. Roy Blunt [R-MO.]: “The right to free speech is one of the most basic foundations that makes our nation great, and I strongly oppose sanctioning Americans’ right to free speech in any medium – including over the internet.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger [R. Il.]: “Unfortunately, the way these bills are currently written does not ensure an open and free internet and that is not something I can support.”

Rep. Ben Quayle [R-Ariz.]

Rep. Lee Terry [R-Neb.]

Sen. Tom Coburn [R-Ok.]

Sen. Jeff Sessions [R-Ala.]

Sen. Jim Risch [R-In.]

LWR Links:

It’s American Censorship Day: Why Congress Wants to Blackout the Net

Open Letter to Senator Dick Durbin

SOPA Shelved, PIPA on Its Last Leg, and the Internet Saved?

Free Speech, generally: An Imperfect Manifestation: Searching for the First Amendment on Bill of Rights Day

Other Online Resources:

Fight for the Future

Ars Technica: Protesting SOPA: How to Make Your Voice Heard

Wikipedia: SOPA and PIPA – Learn More

CBS News: SOPA, PIPA: What You Need to Know

OpenCongress – Trace the Money


About Matthew L. Schafer

Matthew L. Schafer graduated from the University of Illinois in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Media Studies. He later attended Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication where he earned a Masters of Mass Communication and Georgetown University Law Center where he earned his J.D.
This entry was posted in First Amendment, Internet Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

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