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White House comments on SOPA, won’t support harmful legislation

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Yesterday brought some good news for opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and other in-process legislation intended for use as a weapon against cyber-criminals. The official online voice of the White House ran a lengthy blog post detailing “what the Administration will support—and what we will not support” if/when bills like SOPA and PIPA pass through Congress and land on President Barack Obama’s Oval Office desk.

The blog, penned by intellectual property enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel, U.S. chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra and National Security Staff cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt, clearly states at the outset that the White House “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” There’s no outright statement that SOPA will not be signed into law in its current form, but it’s strongly implied.

The blog post instead urges critics and lawmakers on all sides to come together in reasoned discussion, insisting — not incorrectly — that online piracy is a real issue which must be addressed. “That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response,” the blog post reads. “We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of legitimate American values.”

In related news, The Hill reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor won’t vote on SOPA specifically until a consensus has been reached. A statement from House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa reads, “While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House. Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”

The controversial bill continues to be the subject of heavy discussion on the Internet. This week, on January 18, a number of prominent websites — including Reddit — will “go dark” to support continued resistance to the bill.