01/17/2012 : S.O.P.A. AUTHOR MAY HAVE JUST BLINKED (Update)
Facing mounting opposition to his internet-unfriendly bill, Texas Republican delays consideration and says he will ‘tone down’ enforcement provisions
The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and its draconian enforcement proposals appear to have been put on hold whilst the author, Texas Republican Party Rep. Lamar Smith, reconsiders its proposed content.
Smith retreated from House Judicial Committee hearings scheduled for this week in the face of mounting opposition to SOPA and a haemorrhage of political support that has included criticism from White House advisers.
There is also evidence that the internet protest temporary blackout planned to draw attention to the dangers of the bill is gaining momentum, with Wikipedia the latest major internet company to commit to it.
Smith’s House Judicial Committee consideration of the bill, and a companion bill titled the Protect IP Act due to be progressed by the Senate, have now been delayed whilst the authors review their options, reports MSN, which notes that the blackout was planned for the 18 January to coincide with Smith’s hearings.
Rep. Smith says he plans to tone down his proposal’s enforcement powers under SOPA, with particular attention to those allowing government officials to ‘blacklist’ domains that are alleged to be involved in the distribution of pirated content.
"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 statement.
"We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers."
Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democratic Party sponsor of the Senate version of SOPA – the, The Protect IP Act (PIPA) has made a similar retreat from his original proposals, citing complaints from "human rights groups, engineers, and others".