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NEW YORK – Much-debated U.S. legislation designed to reduce online piracy is likely to be scaled back amid criticism from the White House, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
One part of the Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA, which would require Internet service providers to cut off infringing sites, is likely to be eliminated from the draft bill that the House of Representatives has been exploring, it said. A similar bill has also been in the works in the Senate.
It is not clear though if cutting the blocking provisions will be enough to get the legislation passed, according to Reuters.
“Like many other tech companies, we believe that there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking U.S. companies to censor the Internet,” a Google spokeswoman told Reuters.
The bills’ goal is to block access to overseas Web sites that offer unlicensed content and stolen goods. Entertainment companies along with pharmaceutical firms have pushed for the bill to help them address practices that they say cost them billions of dollars every year. Tech companies have opposed it, arguing it would hurt innovation and free speech rights.
The White House said in a blog post this weekend that it wouldn’t support any legislation that “reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” Via Twitter, News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch criticized the White House for its stance.
As a result of the heated debate, Congressional staffers are preparing to write new language to tone down the current bills, Reuters said.
However, three important portions of the planned legislation are likely to stay in place, it said. They are rules that would force search engines to disable links to foreign infringing sites, provisions that cut off advertising services to those sites, and rules that would call for a cut-off of payment processing.
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