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Intro: "Misguided efforts to combat online privacy have been threatening to stifle innovation, suppress free speech, and even, in some cases, undermine national security. As of yesterday, though, there's a lot less to worry about."

Barack Obama, the first truly digital president. (photo: Reuters)
Barack Obama, the first truly digital president. (photo: Reuters)

Obama Announces Opposition to SOPA

By Steve Benen, Washington Monthly

16 January 12


isguided efforts to combat online privacy have been threatening to stifle innovation, suppress free speech, and even, in some cases, undermine national security. As of yesterday, though, there's a lot less to worry about.

At issue are two related bills: the Senate's Protect IP Act and the even more offensive Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, both of which are generating intense opposition from tech giants and First Amendment advocates. The first sign that the bills' prospects were dwindling came Friday, when SOPA sponsors agreed to drop a key provision that would have required service providers to block access to international sites accused of piracy.

The legislation ran into an even more significant problem yesterday when the White House announced its opposition to the bills. Though the administration's chief technology officials acknowledged the problem of online privacy, the White House statement presented a fairly detailed critique of the measures and concluded, "We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet." It added that any proposed legislation "must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet."

Until now, the Obama administration had not taken a position on the issue. The response was published yesterday as part of the online "We The People" petition initiative launched by the White House last year.

Though the administration did not issue a formal veto threat, the White House's opposition signaled the end of these bills, at least in their current form.

A few hours later, Congress shelved SOPA, putting off action on the bill indefinitely.

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) unless there is consensus on the bill.

"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 in a statement. "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."

It's possible that a related version of SOPA could come back at some point down the road - though probably not this year - but for now, the push against the bill has succeeded beautifully. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-20 # James Marcus 2012-01-16 12:19
Since when is Obama's word to be trusted?
A Snake in the Grass!
+6 # John Locke 2012-01-16 14:45
James Marcus, I agree, If the bill comes to Obama He will sign it, just like he opposed the Homeland security Bill, but strangely he signed that over his own objections...
+20 # Barbara K 2012-01-16 12:19
Thank you, Mr. President. Now keep it out of our laws. It is nothing but an attempt to snoop thru our online business and has nothing to do with piracy. We have friendly social sites (such as Facebook, etc) and those don't need monitoring. We just have some nosy people in Congress who want to snoop thru our private business. They don't really give a crap about piracy. If someone doesn't want a subject pirated, they have only to keep it off the internet. It is a lie to claim they are protecting our rights. We have the Right to Free Speech, let us use it.
+7 # wsh 2012-01-16 13:56
"If someone doesn't want a subject pirated, they have only to keep it off the internet."

How? Don't publish at all?

Barbara, piracy IS a big problem on the internet...but SOPA was a terrible vehicle for combating it (I signed a few petitions against it).

There are numerous examples of people downloading music, images, and writing that are copyrighted. There should be penalties to the people uploading things that don't belong to them...but NOT to the sites where this occurs -- unless they solicit this type of material.

Downloading a song without paying for it is like swiping a record from the record store (I'm showing my age).

Protect content -- don't stifle the internet. These ideas aren't mutually exclusive.
+5 # Barbara K 2012-01-16 17:38
Of course, as I mentioned, I'm referring to the things that those of us do that do not pirate anything. Yet we will be punished anyway. I don't download any music, etc., but enjoy the sites. I'm sure most people do not pirate these items.


our future is at stake
+2 # wsh 2012-01-16 17:53
Wow, thumbs down, huh?

I guess everyone here expects artists, musicians, and writers to work for free. Make 'em get a job somewhere else, huh?

If you read my post thoroughly, you'd see I said I was against stifling the internet, but I didn't think we should throw out copyright laws for the creators.

Maybe one of you thumbs-downers could explain what I said that was so reprehensible.

P.S. I don't own any copyrights, and I know but one person whom holds ONE....but I'm not a thief, so I don't infringe on them, do you?
+4 # John Locke 2012-01-16 19:44
wsh: There are already Civil and Criminal remedies available to those injured..., their is no further need to legislate in this area...
0 # wsh 2012-01-16 20:32
Yes, John, but they don't take into account how new technology can circumvent the existing laws.

As a matter of fact, if you post a copyrighted item on the internet, the site is more likely to suffer prosecution than you are for posting it -- and they did nothing but provide a forum which you used illegally. THAT'S why we need new laws -- to PROTECT the internet.
+2 # John Locke 2012-01-17 09:56
wsh: The current Criminal laws do that. There really is NO need for further laws dealing with internet piracy, or copyright infringement. All that is needed is inforcement and that begins with a complaint
0 # dusty 2012-01-16 19:49
Over the past 20 years the length of copyright, patent, etc has been extended and extended to secure the profits of corporate interests over and over. Same with artists --- they keep wanting to extend their time for receiving money so that they keep stashing. We need to go back to patents or copyrights that last maybe 10 years at most. This would open up innovation that entrepreneurs keep talking about.
-2 # wsh 2012-01-16 20:25
"We need to go back to patents or copyrights that last maybe 10 years at most."

So a creator should have to give up rights to ownership after 10 years? What do you do for a living, Dusty? How about we stop paying you for your work after ten years?

Or maybe after ten years ALL ownership should be negated. So I can move into your house after you've owned it for ten years.

Give me a break, you're gettin' something for free that you used to have to pay for, and now you don't want to give up that freebie.
+2 # Progressive Patriot 2012-01-17 00:48
Just because something is posted on the Internet doesn't mean it is your so reproduce. If you use it, you must sight the origin. Give credit where credit is due.
+9 # Mike Farrace 2012-01-16 14:15
Glad to see these terrible bills thwarted. But we need to keep track of the convicted criminal and proven liar, the unctuous and insincere Darryl Issa, who is the real snake in the grass.
+4 # peterjkraus 2012-01-16 19:40
Yeah. If I remember correctly, Issa was a car thief, was indicted for attempted insurance fraud and bullshitted his Army service, claiming falsely that his unit had "protected President Nixon". There´s a lot more of that on Wikipedia. Darrell Issa ("In Arabic, my name means Jesus") is a values Republican. Congratulations , values voters!
+4 # papabob 2012-01-16 14:17
Barbara K,
You forgot something.

+7 # Barbara K 2012-01-16 17:33
Thanks for reminding me.


our future and livelihoods are at stake
+7 # T4D 2012-01-16 20:06
I confess I once voted for a Republican, but GOD forgave me later.
+1 # RMDC 2012-01-17 08:01
As the Qu'ran says, "God is a merciful God."
+2 # mwd870 2012-01-17 07:04
My first reaction was, yes! Then the reminder this has happened before and Obama, uh, changed his mind.

Also, how could anyone think it was a good idea to elect Darryll Issa? Maybe those behind the scenes with the big money? [MichaelAngelo] "We need to keep track of the convicted criminal and proven liar, the unctuous and insincere Darryl Issa, who is the real snake in the grass."

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