White House releases statement against SOPA; asks for refined legislation this year

The White House has released an official statement against SOPA in its current form, but the battle of anti-piracy isn't over yet...
Written by Stephen Chapman, Contributor

It appears the massive response from the public has made a difference. Today, people are waking up to emails in their inbox from the White House in response to two particular anti-SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act -- more about it here) petitions with signatures tallying just over 100,000 at the time of this writing. Under no uncertain terms, the White House clearly opposes SOPA in its current form; but the anti-piracy battle rages on as the White House calls for legislation far more refined to be passed this year.

The lengthy response rings true and it seems as though the White House understands the ever-growing importance of an uncensored Internet -- something most of us have been raging about for weeks now. Below are 4 passages that the White House has emphasized with bold text in the response:

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.

We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet.

That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response.

This is not just a matter for legislation. We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.

As some of you know, Reddit has been a breeding ground for actionable anti-SOPA protests, so word of this response is already spreading around there like wildfire. As such, there are some interesting responses from people that run the range from elated to not wholly convinced. One such of the latter is from a Redditor by the name of LaughingMan11, who says:

Let's not let the White House off the hook yet. They have not said anything about opposing the provision that forces search engines to filter their search results. This is the same tactic that was demanded by, and abused by the government of China, and part of the reason why Google doesn't do business there anymore.

Easy to see, there are plenty of facets of SOPA (and PIPA) that need refinement, revision, or removal altogether -- most likely, in the form of completely new legislation sometime this year. So, the battle is far from over, but it seems the White House is calling for middle ground between active offshore anti-piracy measures, and absolutely no censorship of the Internet. To close, here is a passage from the White House's response that I'm interested to see play out:

We are paying close attention to those opportunities, as well as to public input to the Administration. The organizer of this petition and a random sample of the signers will be invited to a conference call to discuss this issue further with Administration officials and soon after that, we will host an online event to get more input and answer your questions. Details on that will follow in the coming days.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the White House is genuine in their response, or do you think they're simply trying to appease the angry masses? Likewise, can you think of any effective offshore anti-piracy measures that wouldn't be a detriment to the freedoms of the Internet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

-Stephen Chapman


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