SOPA Takes a Hit as Provisions Weakened

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Legislation intended to fight piracy online took a hit on Friday after U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith agreed to drop his support for one of the bill’s most controversial provisions.

The provision would have given the U.S. Justice Department the ability to enforce domain blocking, meaning ISPs (internet service providers) would be required block access to sites accused of infringement.

“After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision,” Smith said in a statement via his U.S. House website.

He continued, “We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers.”

Critics of the provision argued that it lacked proper due process, not giving the accused a way to defend against their actions.

Recent anti-piracy legislation such as PIPA (the Protect IP Act) and SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) have proven highly unpopular with tech innovators despite being supported by film and music industry executives.  Critics argue that the bills would harm free speech on the web.

Meanwhile, the White House clarified its position on the legislation Saturday in response to petitions going against the bills.

Discussing the matter, the White House stated, “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.”

Online censorship and cyber security were concerns highlighted by the White House’s letter. Meanwhile, official Congressional debate on the bills is expected to resume once Congress returns from its current recess.