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Opponent says SOPA may be stalled in Congress

Issa says he has assurances that SOPA will not move forward without consensus

By Grant Gross
January 16, 2012 01:30 PM ET

IDG News Service - Controversial online copyright enforcement bill the Stop Online Piracy Act may be stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives as lawmakers try to iron out a compromise, an opponent of the legislation said.

Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said he's been assured by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that SOPA will not move forward unless consensus is reached.

"Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote," Issa said. "The voice of the Internet community has been heard. Much more education for Members of Congress about the workings of the Internet is essential if anti-piracy legislation is to be workable and achieve broad appeal."

A spokeswoman for Cantor declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chief sponsor of SOPA, said Monday she does not believe Cantor has made a public comment about delaying SOPA.

Issa also announced that a Wednesday hearing on SOPA's impact on cybersecurity has been postponed, following a decision by Smith to take out a provision affecting the domain-name system. Smith announced Friday that he would take out a portion of SOPA that would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders requiring U.S. Internet service providers to block subscriber access to foreign websites accused of infringing copyright.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin voting on a similar bill, the Protect IP Act, on Jan. 24.

"Although SOPA, despite the removal of this provision, is still a fundamentally flawed bill, I have decided that postponing the scheduled hearing on DNS blocking with technical experts is the best course of action at this time," said Issa, who is pushing for an alternate bill, called the OPEN Act. "Right now, the focus of protecting the Internet needs to be on the Senate where Majority Leader Reid has announced his intention to try to move similar legislation in less than two weeks."

Also on Friday, three officials in President Barack Obama's administration issued an inconclusive statement on SOPA after two online petitions called on the president to veto the bill.

The White House statement called on "all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders." The statement was signed by Victoria Espinel, the White House enforcement coordinator, Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. federal CTO, and Howard Schmidt, the cybersecurity coordinator for the Obama administration.

But the statement called for legislation that does not create new cybersecurity risks or limit freedom of expression. "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 White House said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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