Good news for the anti-SOPA/PIPA crowd: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced on his official Facebook page that he no longer supports the “PROTECT IP Act” (PIPA), a bill he co-sponsored. In his statement, Sen. Rubio also urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to “abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor.” PIPA is currently schedule to go before the full Senate for a procedural vote to begin debate on the bill on January 24.
Here is Sen. Rubio’s statement, in full:
Better Way to Fight the Online Theft of American Ideas and Jobs
By Senator Marco Rubio
In recent weeks, we’ve heard from many Floridians about the anti-Internet piracy bills making their way through Congress. On the Senate side, I have been a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act because I believe it’s important to protect American ingenuity, ideas and jobs from being stolen through Internet piracy, much of it occurring overseas through rogue websites in China. As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs.
However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.
Earlier this year, this bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy. Since then, we’ve heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.
Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.
Sen. Rubio’s renouncement of PIPA comes amidst a mass blackout of more than 7,000 websites, including Wikipedia, Craigslist, Reddit, and many others, intended to protest PIPA and the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), a companion anti-piracy bill that resides in the House of Representatives. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chief sponsor of SOPA, announced Tuesday plans to resume Judiciary Committee markup hearings on the bill next month. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has assured SOPA opponents in the House that the bill will not come up for a full House vote until consensus on the bill can be achieved — a scenario that appears increasingly unlikely.
The statement from Sen. Rubio echo’s remarks on SOPA and PIPA from the White House, which said this past weekend that it “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
Sen. Rubio follows Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ), who pulled his name from the list of SOPA co-sponsors on Tuesday. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) also announced plans to withdrawal is name from the SOPA co-sponsor list.
UPDATE: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has also pulled support for SOPA/PIPA. He writes on his Facebook page: “SOPA: better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time.”