In a blog post published Friday the Obama Administration signaled measured opposition to both the House-sponsored Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its kissing cousin in the Senate, the Protect IP Act of 2011 (PIPA). With fairly clear language (for government officials), impossibly-titled administration officials Victoria Espinel, Aneesh Chopra and Howard Schmidt authored the response to two petitions directed at the legislation, stating:
While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, 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 “measured” part of White House opposition came later in the response:
So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what’s right. Already, many of members of Congress are asking for public input around the issue. We are paying close attention to those opportunities, as well as to public input to the Administration.
Given the nature of relations between the White House and Congress, this response is likely to have no effect on legislators. Also, as noted by Fast Company blogger JD Rucker, another problem with SOPA and PIPA–a problem that will lead to them passing–is public ignorance as to what they’re about. Rucker writes that even though there’s a “perceived groundswell” against the acts, “the reality is that the majority of Americans still have no idea what SOPA is or what it means.”
Protests by those who do know about the bills that could “break the Internet” continue. January 18th is Stop SOPA Blackout Day, when a number of major websites plan to go black to demonstrate just how devastating the acts could be.