Huffington Post reports a small victory against SOPA (H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act”) and it’s counterpart in the Senate, PIPA (“Protect IP Act”), claiming that President Obama will not support the current legislation. A statement released on behalf of the Obama Administration states, “… we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet. Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.” The statement issued by Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Howard Schmidt, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff further states, “We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.”
Some people may interpret this statement by the White House as a sign that Obama will veto SOPA or PIPA if either passes. However, I’m not that optimistic. Huffington Post further reports “Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation,” the letter also read. SOPA sponsor and House Judiciary Chairman (R-Texas) Lamar Smith issued a statement of his own, “I welcome today’s announcement that the White House will support legislation to combat online piracy that protects free speech, the Internet and America’s intellectual property. That’s precisely what the Stop Online Piracy Act does.”
I previously wrote about SOPA, citing that it could be interpreted to blacklist sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Flickr and many more. Since then, the bill has been amended to include “immunity” for sites that voluntarily censor themselves, which means it will be harder to share information online. I do not believe for one second that SOPA, PIPA or any other “anti-piracy” legislation from Congress will protect the free flow of information.