Senator co-sponsor of PIPA officially abandons bill. Why?

Senator Marco Rubio, one of the co-sponsors of PIPA, has abandoned the bill over Facebook. What does this mean for the next generation?

Senator Marco Rubio, one of the co-sponsors of the PIPA legislation, has announced on the social networking site Facebook his abandonment of the bill.

In a Facebook post on his page titled 'A Better Way to Fight the Online Theft of American Ideas and Jobs', the senator states:

"In recent weeks, we’ve heard from many Floridians about the anti-Internet piracy bills making their way through Congress. On the Senate side, I have been a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act because I believe it’s important to protect American ingenuity, ideas and jobs from being stolen through Internet piracy, much of it occurring overseas through rogue websites in China. As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs.

However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.

Earlier this year, this bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy. Since then, we've heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.

Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet."

Something most of the tech community have been petitioning for since the SOPA and PIPA acts manifested, is simply the desire for those in Congress to attempt to understand the frustration of online businesses and individual users.

It is not that those who rebel against bills such as the Protect IP Act and SOPA are simply a bunch of good-for-nothing thieves who despair at the idea of actually paying for the latest season of their favourite television show.

It is the prospect of losing a valuable communicative tool, the idea of online businesses going bust, of start ups who suddenly lose investment due to the threat of future court cases. For the average user, the threat of losing Google and YouTube may be enough to cause heart palpitations. Remove Facebook and you'll have civil war.

Corporations, even though they naturally do not advocate piracy, also have a right to worry -- money may be lost on products, but more is potentially lost through heavy-handed censorship that could strangle new technology and profitable business models.

Any corporation or site that allows any interactive components on their platforms -- whether it be streaming, commentary or perhaps even chat rooms, can be branded a 'facilitator of thievery', and within moments, the lawyers can come knocking.

Microsoft is the latest to make their stand on SOPA clear, stating that the bill in its current form is something they cannot advocate.

The 'opposition', from the tech community to online giants such as Wikipedia and Reddit, harbors resentment at the idea of people in government being handed the power to regulate a network they appear to know little about, and which will no doubt strangle an industry which contributes profusely to the economy and job creation.

Piracy isn't right. But taking the wrong approach, when a young generation of developers has already made steps to circumvent legislation anyway, will only harm innovation and information exchange. Other criticisms of the legislation include the fact it has the potential to strangle free speech, deter investment in digital business, and gives too much power to one governmental group.

Another senator expressing dissatisfaction of the ways these bills are being managed can only be a good thing for current online users and the generation to come after us. Perhaps the Gen Y won't need to worry about China's version of censorship evolving in to a global wall that removes any prospect of online free speech, and strangling the fledgling businesses that a generation suffering a job shortage relies on to try and make something of themselves and improve the economic situation.

No bill will ever work unless enough is understood about that which you intend to regulate -- whether the information exchange itself or the people who are more versed in ways to circumvent such legislation than you care to admit. The senator has the right idea, now its time for others to follow suit.

Image credit: Facebook

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