Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger is not in favor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which has gained tremendous attention today as Internet giants protest the proposed legislation.
Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat who represents portions of Anne Arundel County, wrote in his blog Wednesday afternoon assuring constituents that the bill would not come to a vote amid an outcry of petitioning.
“The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods,” according to a Wikipedia entry. “Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.”
Wikipedia is one of many Web giants (which includes Google, Wired, among others) “blacking out” at least part of their sites today, standing in opposition of the bill, which was introduced in October by Texas Republican Rep. Lamar S. Smith.
The bill has drawn criticism from more than 50,000 petitioners who claim that the broad, vague language of the bill could threaten Web properties like Facebook and Twitter with legal action, merely for allowing users to post links to questionable material.
But for Ruppersberger, the matter at hand comes down to cybersecurity—a field for which the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is passionate about.
“Stealing copyrighted material is a serious problem for American businesses and innovators,” Ruppersberger wrote in his blog. “The theft of movies, music and television content over the Internet costs the U.S. economy more than 373,000 jobs, $16 billion in lost earnings, and $3 billion in lost federal, state and local government tax revenue each year.
“However, I have serious reservations about this bill in its current form because of its potential impact on cybersecurity,” he continues. As Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Community, I believe cyber attacks are one of our nation’s top threats. Until we better understand the impact, I can not support this legislation.”
A video titled "Protect IP/SOPA Breaks The Internet" posted to Vimeo by "Fight for the Future" addresses cybersecurity concerns at around the 2:15 mark.
The Senate is expected to vote on the Protect IP Act on Jan. 24, according to a press release sent to reporters Wednesday.
"[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid has indicated there could be significant changes that would make the bill a 'winner for everyone, not just for the content people,'" writes Pamela Heisey of MapLight.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said in a statement last week that he would not vote for the Senate version, which he co-sponsored, as written.
"As the remaining portions of PIPA progress, I will continue to seek out meaningful amendments and alternative proposals to address the bill’s current flaws," he said.