January 18th marked a big day in the history of the online industry. Companies as big as Google and Wikipedia took part in a protest against the passing of anti piracy laws. Surprising enough, yesterday one of the co-sponsors of the Protect IP Act, Senator Marco Rubio joined the protest and urged other politicians to follow his example.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was a co-sponsor of the Protect IP Act but, as he states, recent “legitimate concerns” have made him reconsider his position. He wrote that since the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously earlier this year, there have been a lot of “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”.
As a result, Marco Rubio posted on his Facebook page the following statement: “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”.
Rubio’s change of heart is a big deal and could definitely get more senators to turn fire against the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. Opposition on the bills is justified by claims that these would help stop Internet copyright infringement but with the risk of restricting the freedom of the online world.
The freshman Senator also explains that U.S. lawmakers “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”.
Josh Levy, the Internet campaign director for FreePress.org said: “with the influence of Hollywood money in the entire political system, everyone is taking a risk by coming out against these bills”. But, Levy believes that “the tide has turned, and it’s now politically safe for them to come out”.
It seems that Marco Rubio opened the path, because late on Wednesday, Senator Roy Blunt also announced he is withdrawing support. “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”, he said.