Google, Facebook and Zynga, Ally against SOPA
In an attempt to stop the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill Facebook, Google, Twitter, Zynga and other web companies have sent a letter (pdf) to important members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, saying that the act “pose[s] a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity.”
The letter’s aim was to underline the dangers within the SOPA act before entering the hearing held by the House Judiciary committee on the 16th of November. eBay, Mozilla, Yahoo, AOL and LinkedIn are just few of the web companies that signed the letter, asking politicians to “consider more targeted ways to combat foreign ‘rogue’ Web sites.”
If SOPA passes through and becomes law, it can send “rogue” sites into oblivion by simply erasing them from the face of the Internet. The key word here is of course “rogue”, as it’s still unclear which websites are to be considered a liability and which not.
The announcement of the hearing makes Lamar Smith’s (House Judiciary Chairman) position clear; it reads that SOPA reflects a bipartisan “commitment toward ensuring that law enforcement and job creators have the necessary tools to protect American intellectual property from counterfeiting and piracy.” Among supporters of the bill we can find Republican or Democratic leaders of the House and Senate committees, America’s Union Movement or AFL-CIO, and the US labor union Teamsters.
Trying to gag the voice of freedom Mr. Smith repeatedly refused to invite EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundation) and other opposing groups to the hearing as he needs no counter-arguments to the legislation; those invitations were sent instead to the MPAA, AFL-CIO and Pfizer. However, Google will be the only company speaking at this hearing against SOPA, a tactical advantage from which the supporters of the bill may benefit.
The web companies’ letter will let Katherine Oyama (Google’s policy counsel) prove that the opposing voice is louder than they think. A press briefing was also held this morning inside the Capitol Visitors Center complex, with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) being invited to speak on the SOPA issues.
CNet updates show that letters keep coming in. Members of Congress have sent a letter of their own (pdf), signed by Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo, both California Democrats, and Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate from Texas, among others. In their letter, they say that SOPA will invite “an explosion of innovation-killing lawsuits and litigation.” They’re not the only one writing anti-SOPA letters. Other civil-liberties and left-leaning advocacy groups (Bits of Freedom in the Netherlands, the Electronic Frontier Finland, Reporters Without Borders, and US’s Free Press and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility) are speaking their mind, saying that “through SOPA, the United States is attempting to dominate a shared global resource.”
Last but not least, a letter (pdf) signed by law professors, including Stanford’s Mark Lemley, Elon’s David Levine, Temple’s David Post, and UCLA’s Eugene Volokh was written, warning that SOPA “has grave constitutional infirmities, potentially dangerous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, and will undermine United States foreign policy and strong support of free expression on the Internet around the world.”