Signs of Progress on the Internet Blacklist Bills, but the Fight Continues
Looks like proponents of the Internet Blacklist Bills are finally beginning to realize that they won't be able to ram through massive, job-killing legislation without a fight. First, Sen. Patrick Leahy, sponsor of the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), announced on Thursday that he would recommend that the Senate further study the dangerous DNS blocking provisions in that bill before implementation. Then, a group of six influential senators wrote to Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, urging that the Senate slow down and postpone the upcoming vote on PIPA. Sen. Ben Cardin, a co-sponsor of PIPA, also took a measured stance against the bill, saying he "would not vote for final passage of PIPA, as currently written." Cardin cited consituent activism as the primary reason for the about-face.
On the House side, Rep. Lamar Smith, sponsor of PIPA's dangerous counterpart, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), announced today that he would completely remove the DNS blocking provision from the House bill.
It's heartening to see Congress take steps in the right direction, and it wouldn't have happened without the work and commitment of the many internet communities who have rallied to fight these dangerous bills. We should be proud of the progress we've made.
But let's be clear – we still have a long fight ahead and we face formidable foes. Both bills still contain fundamental flaws that threaten freedom of speech and the future of the Internet. We’ve written before, for example, about the threats to the human rights community, to students, to software development, and to the economy. These threats remain. What is worse (and we can't say this enough), is that this legislation, if made law, will do little to stop online infringement. These bills cannot be fixed – they must be killed. So let's keep the pressure on!