Cloud provider says SOPA would lead to censorship

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The legislation would force search engines and other Web firms to delete links to foreign sites deemed to be "dedicated to theft of U.S. property." The bill has drawn a strong backlash from the technology community, which claims it would lead to censorship and stifle innovation.

"SOPA would require that Rackspace and other Internet service providers censor their customers with little in the way of due process, trumping the protections present in the current Digital Millennium Copyright Act," Napier said.

The bill still has strong support from the content industry as well as powerful interests including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. It's expected to pass the Judiciary Committee but encounter more resistance on the House floor thanks to the growing opposition online.

Update: Judiciary chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent the following response via email - "Now more than ever, we must help our economy by ensuring that legitimate companies are not competing with those that profit by illegally selling stolen goods online. Companies that benefit from working with rogue websites will continue to criticize the Stop Online Piracy Act, but they use fear instead of facts to discredit the bill. We cannot let misinformation distract us from making the online marketplace safe and fair for American consumers.

SOPA only targets conduct that is already illegal. The bill merely makes it possible to enforce the law against foreign pirates and counterfeiters, and it would create a significant barrier to online thieves who profit from selling counterfeit goods. Just because some thieves may find a way around the law does not mean that we should abandon trying to enforce intellectual property rights.

There is no langugage in SOPA that would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Rackspace to “censor” the Internet. It will only require ISPs to take reasonable action when they receive a court order, and only after a judge has decided that the site is dedicated to the sale and distribution of illegal or infringing material. This is why the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, which represents the nation’s largest ISPs, supports SOPA.

SOPA only applies to websites operated by foreign criminals who steal and sell America's products and intellectual property. We enforce laws against criminals in the brick and mortar world. It is not censorship to enforce the law online and stop foreign criminals from stealing America's intellectual property.”

This post was updated at 8:09 p.m.