Rumors are circulating today that Representative Eric Cantor(R-VA) will be announcing his intention to stop all action on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This comes just 48 hours before the planned “SOPA Blackout”, which aims to reduce or remove access to a number of online sites and replace them with links to information about SOPA and Internet censorship, and days after the White House announced they would not support SOPA in it’s current form:
While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
All this comes after a huge backpedal by SOPA’s author, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), where Smith announced he would be removing one of the most troubling aspects of SOPA, it’s ability to interfere with the global Domain Name System (DNS):
After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove DNS-blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the [U.S. House Judiciary] Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision.
So is SOPA dead?
No, SOPA has been put on hold, and could be reactivated at any time. Moreover, even if SOPA never resurfaces, it’s sister bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), is unaffected by this move. While SOPA in name may have been stopped, PIPA has many of the same dangerous traits as it’s better known counterpart, and is still on track to be passed.
It is vitally important not to get comfortable at this point. While getting SOPA put on hold is a definite win, and shows the incredible power the Internet has to enable Democracy, the battle is far from over. It’s very possible that putting SOPA on hold is a diversionary tactic to allow PIPA pass without argument.
The one thing we must absolutely avoid is losing momentum. Thinking SOPA is dead and that the threat has passed is extremely dangerous at this point. Don’t spread misinformation and do supporters of Internet censorship a favor. Don’t post “SOPA IS DEAD” messages on your social networks, or start telling friends and family that the fight it over; that’s exactly what SOPA’s supporters want.
Today is an important day for Internet freedom, but the specter of Internet censorship both at home and abroad is still hanging above us, and we can’t rest until it is truly stopped.
Be informed. Stay focused. Know your rights. Victory is possible.