This was not a fight we were involved in, but were following with peripheral vision. For those who were in the thick of it, it must be a good day. For us too, because an open Internet benefits everyone.
“Let us be clear,” the White House statement said, “online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs.”
However, it added, “We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
The bills currently under consideration in Congress were intended to combat the theft of copyrighted materials by preventing American search engines like Google and Yahoo from directing users to sites that allow for the distribution of stolen materials. They would cut off payment processors like PayPal that handle transactions.
The bills would also allow private citizens and companies to sue to stop what they believed to be theft of protected content. Those and other provisions set off fierce opposition among Internet companies, technology investors and free speech advocates, who said the bills would stifle online innovation, violate the First Amendment and even compromise national security by undermining the integrity of the Internet’s naming system.