When Congress reconvenes later this month, they will consider passing the highly controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Currently, the Senate is scheduled to debate the matter on January 24th and vote shortly thereafter. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, recently said:
“This is a bipartisan piece of legislation which is extremely important. I repeat, it is bipartisan. I hope we can have a productive couple of days, pass this bill, and move on to other matters.”
While the majority of companies and individuals who profit off of content production have lobbied for and are supportive of SOPA, the largest tech companies in the world are vehemently opposed to the new piece of legislation. 87% of the Wikipedia users polled were in support of Jimmy Wales’ idea to initiate an “Internet blackout.”
Since that time, the “nuclear option” has gained popularity and would likely have the support of 15 large tech companies including: Google, Facebook PayPal, Wikipedia, Twitter, & Amazon. Although there has not been a formal decision to temporarily shut down some of the most used sites on the Internet, the most likely date for it to occur is January 23rd – the day before the Senate reconsiders SOPA.
In addition to considering an “Internet blackout,” Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and several other tech giants recently indicated support for the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act. These companies believe that the OPEN Act will penalize illegal sites and minimize the impact on legitimate businesses. In an open letter to Chairman Issa and Senator Wyden these influential tech companies said the following:
“We write today to express our support for the legislation that you are developing to address this [copyright infringement and counterfeiting] problem, released last week on www.keepthewebopen.com as the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act. This approach targets foreign rogue sites without inflicting collateral damage on legitimate, law-abiding U.S. Internet companies by bringing well-established international trade remedies to bear on this problem.”
The following infographic, produced by Keep the Web Open, illustrates the differences between the various bills under consideration: