0 SOPA blackout: Bills lose three co-sponsors amid protests
Three co-sponsors of the SOPA and PIPA antipiracy bills have publicly
withdrawn their support as Wikipedia and thousands of other websites
blacked out their pages Wednesday to protest the legislation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) withdrew as a co-sponsor of the Protect IP
Act in the Senate, while Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Ben Quayle
(R-Ariz.) said they were pulling their names from the companion House
bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Opponents of the legislation, led by
large Internet companies, say its broad definitions could lead to
censorship of online content and force some websites to shut down.
In a https://www.facebook.com/SenatorMarcoRubio/posts/34088962593
on his Facebook page, Rubio noted that after the Senate Judiciary
Committee unanimously passed its bill last year, he has "heard
legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to
the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the
federal government's power to impact the Internet."
"Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could
have many unintended consequences," Rubio said in announcing he was
withdrawing his support. While he's committed to stopping online piracy,
Rubio called for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to back off
plans to hold a key procedural vote on the bill on Tuesday.
Rubio's withdrawal will reduce the number of co-sponsors to 39. Last
week, two other co-sponsors, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch
(R-Utah), joined four other Senate Republicans in a letter to Reid also
urging him delay the vote. But Grassley and Hatch have not withdrawn
Terry and Quayle were among the 31 sponsors of the House legislation before they withdrew their support Tuesday.
Quayle still strongly supports the goal of the House bill to crack
down on foreign websites that traffic in pirated movies, music, medicine
and other goods.
"The bill could have some unintended consequences that need to be
addressed," said Quayle spokesman Zach Howell. "Basically it needs more
work before he can support it."
Terry said that he also leeterry.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&id=2015:terry-to-remove-name-from-bill&catid=49 with the House bill in its current form and would no longer support it.
Wikipedia, Reddit and about 10,000 other websites blacked out their
pages Wednesday with messages warning of the dangers of the legislation
and urging people to contact their congressional representatives. Howell
said Quayle's office had not seen a major increase in calls or emails
Wednesday, but that the piracy bills have been the main issue in recent
weeks for people contacting the office.
There has been a "manageable increase" in visits to House member
websites Wednesday, said Dan Weiser, a spokesman for the House office of
the chief administrative officer.
"It’s possible some users will see a short delay or slow loading of a member's web page," he said.