Congressional support for the Stop Online Piracy Act has taken a sudden nosedive after notoriously popular websites such as Wikipedia and Tumblr completed a 24-hour period of “blackout” in an effort to protest the possible passage of SOPA and raise public awareness of the highly contested act.
The response from millions of web users across the United States has caused members of Congress to recount their support for SOPA in droves. Following Wednesday’s blackout, support for the act plummeted to a mere 65 supporters.
SOPA currently has over 100 Congressional opponents, most of which are almost spilt equally between members of the Democratic and Republican parties.
The 2-1 margin is highly significant in terms of Congressional backing and indicates that popular opinion has outweighed the might of some of the most prominent supporters of the act including the Motion Picture Association of America, Pfizer, and the Recording Industry Association of America.
Some of the most notable opponents of the act include Republican Ron Paul, Democrat and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Arkansas Senator John Boozman, and Alaska Senator Mark Begich.
Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder wrote on his Facebook page that while he has “great concerns regarding online piracy” he fears that SOPA would be “overly burdensome on free speech and would stifle the creative energy that drives the internet.”
“Thank God twitter isn’t blocked today so I can tell you that I refuse to vote for #SOPA. #uncensored #StopSOPA,” Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh from wrote on his Twitter page.
Supporters of the act include California Senator Barbra Boxer, Texas Republican Sefani Carter, California Senator Diane Feinstein, and Arizona Senator John McCain.
Some of the most prominent opposition arguments against the act are with regards to the widely popular websites including YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Twitter.
Under the act, these websites would be legally considered as “dedicated to the theft of U.S. property” due to the ability of users on the sites to upload content that may violate copyrights. Thus sharing links that do not belong to you would no longer be allowed on Twitter and uploading content could be banned on YouTube.
The act is slated to be undergoing Congressional consideration in about two weeks and Wednesday's protest has resulted in a slue of Congressional leaders to call for provisions to be made to the act.
“For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia,” Wikipedia wrote on its website on Wednesday.
Wikipedia said that over 162 million viewers saw its anti-SOPA message and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wale thanked users for their support on Thursday.
“You said no. You shut down Congress’s switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet,” Wales wrote in a message to supporters.