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SOPA Stopped?
Eleanor Griggs , January 17th, 2012 07:24

Obama criticises piracy bill

The future of the Stop the Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is hanging in the balance after the US government raised concerns over heavy-handed aspects of the proposals.

The legislation, which aims to clamp down on online piracy, has already received the backing of entertainment companies, publishers and other industry groups. They claim that the solution to the problem, which costs US firms billions of dollars every year, is to block access to foreign websites distributing stolen content, such as music and films.

However, the bill was dealt a major blow over the weekend when the Obama administration revealed that they opposed plans to censor websites. In an online statement, the White House said they would not endorse "legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet".

The government's opposition to the bill comes after major internet companies, among them Google and Facebook, revealed that they were against the proposals, arguing that they threaten to undermine free speech and the operation of the internet.

Opposition to the bill has already encountered some resistance, with Rupert Murdoch taking to Twitter to criticise the White House. He wrote: "So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery".

However, SOPA's opponents are continuing to gather momentum. Websites that would be affected by the legislation, including the user-generated sites Wikipedia and Reddit, plan to protest against the plans by going offline as part of a scheduled ‘blackout' on Wednesday. Wikipedia claim that the bill "would be devastating to the free and open web".

While the future of the bill is not yet clear, in light of recent opposition it is likely that debate surrounding the issue will intensify, paving the way for the legislation to be rewritten or completely replaced.