U.S. Congress Steps Back on SOPA

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It appears that Congress may be stepping away from the most controversial elements of the bill known as SOPA in the House of Representatives after being deluged by constitutents opposed, several tech companies promising a blackout in protest of the legislation, and the Obama White House hinting at a veto. This would be a major victory for free Internet advocates and technology companies that rely on user-generated content.

Reuters reports that leaders in Congress plan on scaling back the legislation to target three specific areas: “provisions aimed at getting search engines to disable links to foreign infringing sites; provisions that cut off advertising services to those sites; and provisions that cut off payment processing.” Congressional officials are planning on removing language that would require Internet Service Providers to cut off alleged copyright infringing sites through a practice known as DNS blocking.

While this would appear to be a victory, the fact that the U.S. government is still censoring search results could prove to be a sticking point. It is not clear whether the modified bill would be sufficient for President Obama’s signature. The White House said on Saturday that “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.”

Update: It looks like Congress may abandon SOPA altogether. “While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” reads a press release from Representative Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee posted on Monday evening.