In Face Of Protests, Congressmen Begin To Abandon SOPA Ship

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In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of sites like Reddit and Wikipedia are blacked out today in protest. Google blacked out its logo and is running a huge advertising campaign (including on TechCrunch) to get Internet users to sign petitions and oppose the bills. We’ve changed the TC logo in support, which links to another petition if you click on it, and you can learn more about the issue by reading our SOPA coverage.

The online uproar against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in Congress is already causing some in Washington to abandon the SOPA ship. The tide began to turn this weekend when a hearing scheduled for today was canceled and the White House pushed back on some of the more controversial portions of the House bill and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Already, a couple of co-sponsors of the bill are pulling their support. Representative Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is no longer a co-sponsor, and Representative Lee Terry (R-Neb.) is also planning to remove his name from the co-sponsor list, according to Politico. One Congressman, Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is even joining the protest movement. He changed his Facebook profile picture and added the added the note below to his Facebook page. Excerpt:

On Wednesday, January 18, I will join others across the Internet in a 24-hour “blackout” to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. These bills give the federal government unprecedented power to censor Internet content and will stifle the free flow of information and ideas. In protest, I have changed my profile picture and will temporarily disable your ability to post independent content on my Wall (although you still may comment under this post). Demand that Congress and the President keep the Internet open and free. Please borrow my profile pic, share this message, and contact your Representatives and Senators in Congress to urge them to protect your right to free speech by opposing SOPA and PIPA.

Dude, you are a Congressman. You keep the Internet open and free, and tell the people you work with to do the same thing. Thank you.

Okay, who’s next?

Update: Looks like  at least 13 senators withdrew their support of the Senate’s Protect IP Act, including Senator Roy Blunt, a co-sponsor, who made his amends on Facebook:

Senate Leader Harry Reid is pushing forward with legislation that is deeply flawed and still needs much work. That is why I’m withdrawing my co-sponsorship for the Protect IP Act.

While I believed the bill still needed much work, I cosponsored the Senate version of the Protect IP Act because I support the original intent of this bill – to protect against the piracy of lawful content. Upon passage of this bill through committee, Senate Judiciary Republicans strongly stated that there were substantive issues in this legislation that had to be addressed before it moved forward. I agree with that sentiment.

The right to free speech is one of the most basic foundations that makes our nation great, and I strongly oppose sanctioning Americans’ right to free speech in any medium – including over the internet. I continue to believe that we can come to a solution that will cut off the revenue sources for foreign websites dedicated to counterfeiting and piracy that steal American jobs, hurt the economy, and harm consumers. But the Protect IP Act is flawed as it stands today, and I cannot support it moving forward.