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SOPA Delayed – But Not For Long

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The extremely unpopular SOPA bill was supposed to be the last order of business today as the House Judiciary Committee prepared to break for the holidays, but a parade of objections and amendments (over 50) kept the bill in discussion and at last the committee adjourned without resolving the issues.

What was expected in this contingency was for the committee to resume work whenever the House reconvenes in January. After all, with such controversial and far-reaching legislation, it is better to take one’s time. But no: the committee has announced it will continue markup this coming Wednesday, the 21st of December.

Very few of the suggestions by opponents have been heeded, and the chairman, Lamar Smith (R-Texas), demonstrated his contempt for these concerns with the following words, which I am sorry to say make me very angry:

I am pleased that the unfounded claims of critics of the Stop Online Piracy Act have overwhelmingly been rejected by a majority of House Judiciary Committee members. The criticism of this bill is completely hypothetical; none of it is based in reality. Not one of the critics was able to point to any language in the bill that would in any way harm the Internet. Their accusations are simply not supported by any facts.

This casual, smirking dismissal of the objections from people who are more informed than himself, and which unlike the media lobbyists and other proponents have little to gain from their advocacy, is distressing. The only place the committee seemed willing to make a change was holding off on some of the bill’s portions until a study could be made on the potential effects to DNS and other critical systems. Smith said he would consider a briefing.

It’s telling how badly the bill’s supporters want this thing to go through that they’re willing to come in right in the middle of the holidays to do work that could easily be done a few weeks from now. We’ll follow up on Wednesday, when the bill is likely to be approved and sent on to the House.