SOPA lives: Rep. Lamar Smith to resume markup hearings in February

lamar smith

On the eve of a mass online blackout to protest the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and the “PROTECT IP Act” (PIPA), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced today that the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is chairman, will resume markup hearings on SOPA. Smith’s decision comes just days after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised that the controversial anti-piracy legislation would not come up for a vote before the full House until consensus on the bill is reached among representatives.

“To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America’s intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy,” said Smith in a statement posted to the Judiciary Committee’s website.

“Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.

“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property.”

PIPA, the Senate’s version of the anti-piracy legislation, has already passed through committee markup, and is currently set for a procedural vote before the full Senate on January 24 to begin debate on the bill.

In the face of mounting opposition to SOPA and PIPA, both Rep. Smith, chief sponsor of SOPA, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, chief sponsor of PIPA, have agreed to drop provisions in each of these bills that would require Internet service providers to block access to infringing foreign sites using DNS blocking, a controversial technique that technical experts argue could have detrimental consequences for the underlying structure of the Internet, and make it more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Paul Bringer, senior vice president and chief technology office of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a strong supporter of both SOPA and PIPA, has confirmed that DNS blocking is now “off the table.”

Opponents of SOPA and PIPA assert that the broad language of these bills could result in the censorship of free speech, stifled online innovation, and result in other forms of collateral damage and abuse. Smith, the MPAA, and other supporters of these bills argue that these fears are founded upon misinformation, and assure that no such consequences would occur if either of these bills (or a combination of the two, which is more likely) became law.

Adding further challenges to the passage of SOPA or PIPA, the White House released a statement this weekend declaring that President Obama “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” a hint at an intention to veto such legislation.

The opposition movement appears poised to only grow stronger, with a rapidly ballooning number of websites, including Reddit, WordPress, 64 Cheezburger Network sites, Boing Boing, Mozilla, Destructioid, TwitPic, Imgur, and all 3.8 million English-language Wikipedia articles, planning to go “black” (i.e. display a page in protest of SOPA/PIPA) for 12 to 24 hours, starting at midnight tonight. These organizations hope the voluntary blackout will raise public awareness about what they believe could happen were SOPA and/or PIPA to be voted into law.


Russian hackers behind ‘world’s most murderous malware’ probing U.S. power grid

A hacking group linked to the Russian government has attempted to breach the U.S. power grid. Security experts tracked the hackers, and warn that they were probing the grid for weaknesses.

HP's Spectre x360 is a better 2-in-1 than Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 is a clamshell

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a refresh of Microsoft's clamshell option, an oddity given Microsoft's creation of the modern 2-in-1. The HP Spectre x360 13 is, therefore, an interesting comparison.

Amazon deal drops prices on Asus VivoBook laptops and 2-in-1s

Asus is one of the premier PC brands cranking out Windows ultrabooks today with its sleek VivoBook series, and these Amazon deals let you score one for $700 or less. Read on to find out what we love about these laptops and how you can save.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Leaked date and what you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a month away, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.

Air, Pro, or just a MacBook? Here's our guide to finding the right Apple laptop

Apple's lineup of MacBooks has started to swell, leaving fans a bit confused about which laptop they should buy. Depending on what you're looking for, we'll point you in the right direction.

15-inch laptops come with extra power, but which of these wields it better?

HP's latest "gem-cut" Spectre x360 15 adds powerful components to make it the fastest 2-in-1 we've ever tested. Can it take on the equally fast and incredibly svelte Dell XPS 15?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Facebook builds virtual homes to train A.I. agents in realistic environments

Researchers at Facebook have created Habitat, which is a platform that enables rapid training for A.I. agents. They will receive thousands of hours of training in just a few minutes in the virtual homes.

Make your games sound amazing with one of these sets of awesome gaming speakers

If you want to take your gaming sound to the next level, you need to find the best gaming speakers for your set up. Whether you're on a tight budget, want some fancy RGB lighting, or just need the best speaker set money can buy, these great…

I bought a four-year-old MacBook Pro instead of a new one. Here’s why

The new MacBook Pros have a ton of advantages over the older options, but when it came to buying a replacement machine for myself, I found myself returning to 2015 rather than picking up Apple's latest and greatest.

Why OLED gaming monitors may be further from reality than we thought

Earlier this year, Dell showed us the promise of an exciting new future for gaming monitors with the reveal of the Alienware 55-inch OLED gaming display. We loved it. But according to new reports, it may never see the light of day.

Walmart cuts $300 off Dell Inspiron 5680 gaming desktop for gamers on a budget

If you're stashing money but want an upgradeable rig that will go a long way, then this solid deal on the Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop 5680 with Intel Core i5-8400 is for you. It is now available for only $700 at Walmart.

Genius uses 19th-century tech to prove Google copied its song lyrics

Song lyrics website Genius says that it proved that Google has been copying its lyrics and posting them on its own search results page. And Genius says it was able to do it by using a decidedly old-school form communications tech.

Check out Walmart’s steep discounts on Dell and LG gaming monitors

If you're a gamer looking for high-quality computer displays, you definitely need to take advantage of this deals from Dell and LG. These gaming monitors will fit your budget and your GPU.