Some of the internet’s top engineers have banded together to put a stop to an anti-piracy bill, arguing it could pose a major technological barrier for the internet and prevent new innovations.
In an open letter that was published as a full-page ad in Wednesday’s The New York Times, the Washington Post and other national newspapers, Silicon Valley’s top engineers signed at the bottom, including Sergey Brin of Google, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Elon Musk of PayPal (EBay), Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, CNN Money reported.
“We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We're just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it,” wrote the internet moguls.
The letter was published a day before House Judiciary committee members will debate on the Stop Online Privacy Act introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). Although Smith’s bill has attracted tons of support from media firms and the Hollywood industry, web companies and public interest groups strong oppose it, the Washington Post reported.
SOPA aims to cut the amount of pirated content online and would give content owners and the US government the power to request court orders to shut down websites associated with piracy, the BBC reported. The bill also aims to stop online ad networks and payment processors from doing business with foreign websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.
“If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure,” internet engineers wrote in the letter. “Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet's global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences.”
Smith, a member of the Tea Party, has become Hollywood’s top ally, simply because he heads the House Judiciary committee, which drafts copyright laws. He has scheduled a vote on Thursday on SOPA, CBS News reported. The television, movie and music industries are top donors to his 2012 campaign committee, CBS News reported.
Most lawmakers support SOPA, although California Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D) and Darrell Issa (R) have asked the committee to reconsider the bill and amendments to it in a hearing, the Washington Post reported.