A prominent Republican has joined the growing ranks of those opposing the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently circulating amongst legislators.
“The Internet is one of the most magnificent expressions of freedom and free enterprise in history. It should stay that way,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, opined in an official statement.
“While H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, attempts to address a legitimate problem, I believe it creates the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse. I do not support H.R. 3261 in its current form and will oppose the legislation should it come before the full House.”
If implemented in its current iteration, SOPA would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to block access to sites accused of being “dedicated” to copyright infringement.
As Brendan Sasso of The Hill notes, although SOPA is supposedly formulated to combat file sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, the Act is opposed by a number of industry heavyweights, including Google.
Indeed, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt warned the bill would “criminalize linking and the fundamental structure of the Internet,” while effectively creating a nefarious Web-censorship regime.
Unsurprisingly, SOPA’s sponsor, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), claimed the bill does not apply to lawful websites and accused of opponents of “spreading lies” in an effort to kill the unpopular Act.