Key victory for free internet but effort to implement government control continues

Steve Watson
January 20, 2012

Following the announcement by the Department of Justice that it had shuttered file sharing website Megaupload last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today declared that the Senate vote on the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), scheduled for Tuesday, has now been postponed indefinitely.

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act,” Reid said in a statement, referring to this week’s “blackout” protest against PIPA and the House version of the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Just two days ago, Reid had been adamant that the vote would go ahead in the Senate next week.

The two contrasting events highlight the ferocity of the battle that is currently raging over internet freedom in the US and the wider world.

Although forced to sideline the decision on PIPA indefinitely, Reid acknowledged the fact that the battle over the internet legislation is far from over.

“We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks,” Reid said.

“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved,” he added. “Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices.” Reid’s statement continued.

“I admire the work that Chairman Leahy has put into this bill. I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans’ intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet.” the statement read.

Following Wednesday’s protest, several lawmakers who had previously supported the legislation began to backtrack away and reverse their stances.

In the House, the Judiciary Committee postponed a decision on SOPA earlier in the month, but is expected to bring it up again in February. House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that “it’s pretty clear to many of us that there is a lack of consensus at this point.”

As we have repeatedly pointed out, and as proven by the seizure of Megaupload yesterday, the bills are not legislating for anything that isn’t already being carried out by the federal government, which routinely seizes and blacklists any website it wishes.

Furthermore, major online corporations like Google are already following government mandated procedures and even using SOPA-like censorship.

Although the backlash against PIPA/SOPA and the resulting postponement of the bills represents a key victory for the free internet, it is clear that the establishment war against the web will remain in full force.


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

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