Controversial SOPA bill killed in US Congress

16 Jan 2012

The controversial Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) has effectively been stopped in its tracks. Virginia Republican Representative Eric Cantor killed the bill.

However, an equally controversial Protect IP Act (PIPA) which is being proposed in the US Senate may still get through.

Massive online protests against SOPA certainly played a role in killing the bill.

In addition a blog post by the Obama Administration calling for a more moderate approach to fighting online piracy gave the impression that the Administration was wholly against SOPA and it is believed they would have vetoed the bill had it passed.

SOPA more than any other piece of internet legislation effectively polarised the internet community.

Those against SOPA feared that it would lead to censorship on a scale never seen before and that it would disrupt the basic architecture of the internet and curtail free speech. Sites like GoDaddy saw hundreds of thousands of customers threaten to leave because of its pro-SOPA stance. Online news site Reddit threatened to black out on 18 January while Scribd made hundreds of thousands of pages on its site disappear before Christmas.

Those for SOPA, mostly Hollywood, saw it as an opportunity to defend their industry against widescale piracy of movies and music that they say is costing jobs.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years