SOPA and PIPA co-sponsors withdraw support
Missouri, Utah and Florida senators reverse stance in the face of widespread protests
A number of US politicians have retracted their support of the controversial SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy laws following a series of online protests from major web companies.
Senators Marco Rubio (Florida) and Roy Blunt (Missouri), who were initially co-sponsors of the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both issued statements on Facebook yesterday reversing their positions.
"I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs," Rubio said. "However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies."
"Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator [Harry] Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor."
Senator Blunt criticised PIPA as "deeply flawed" and in need of "much work" before it is acceptable. However, Blunt stressed that he still supported the issues raised by the legislation.
"The right to free speech is one of the most basic foundations that makes our nation great, and I strongly oppose sanctioning Americans' right to free speech in any medium - including over the internet," he said.
"I continue to believe that we can come to a solution that will cut off the revenue sources for foreign websites dedicated to counterfeiting and piracy that steal American jobs, hurt the economy, and harm consumers."
Utah senator Orrin Hatch also withdrew his co-sponsorship, calling PIPA "simply not ready for primetime" and confirming that he will vote against the legislation when it passes before the Senate next week.
"Given the legitimate vocal concerns, it is imperative that we take a step back to allow everyone to come together and find a reasonable solution," he said.
Rubio, Blunt and Hatch were among 13 members of the senate who altered their position on SOPA and PIPA yesterday - 11 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
SOPA and PIPA have been widely criticised by gaming and technology companies on the grounds that, should they be passed, their consequences could ultimately prove damaging to the very people they were designed to protect.
Yesterday, Reddit and Wikipedia were among a number of sites that went offline in protest. Google censored its homepage logo to raise awareness of the issue, and collected more than 4.5 million signatures on its anti-SOPA petition.