Maybe Marco Rubio is addicted to late-night Wikipedia binges. You know, the type where you go to look up the director of whatever movie you're absentmindedly watching on cable and then somehow, an hour later, end up reading about the indigenous bird species of Alabama. Because this morning, the Republican senator announced he was dropping his co-sponsorship of PIPA, AKA the bill Wikipedia and several other sites have gone black in order to protest today.
Several websites have gone black and provided links for users to contact their congresspeople about their issues with SOPA and its senate version, PIPA.
"SOPA and PIPA are badly drafted legislation that won't be effective at their stated goal (to stop copyright infringement), and will cause serious damage to the free and open Internet," writes Wikipedia. "They put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn't being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. And SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression."
Appropriately enough for a bill pertaining to the Internet, Rubio announced his change of heart on his Facebook page:
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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.
Rubio appears to be the highest-profile politician to have changed his mind about SOPA and PIPA so far today.