The U.S. House of Representatives has decided to postpone a vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act until after the holidays.
The House Judiciary Committee, who previously discussed the bill, had to end deliberations to attend to a vote on a $1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The discussion will reportedly start again in Congress’ next session, which could be a soon as next week.
According to reports, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah called for a classified hearing, as well as a public one, on cyber security issues. He said that in the only hearing on SOPA, the committee did not hear from security experts and Internet engineers.
"We have deep concerns about what this will do to cybersecurity," Chaffetz said. "I think it would be dangerous for members on this committee to vote on final passage of this bill without having at least one hearing and some clarification," on the security impact.
Texas Republican Lamar Smith said he would consider a hearing or classified briefing on the bill’s impact on cyber security, according to PC World Business Center.
He expressed optimism that the bill would pass once Congress is in session.
The Stop Online Piracy Act has been praised by the recording and filming industries, while high tech companies like PayPal, Google, and Yahoo are against it. The bill, joined by the Protect IP Act, is supposed to combat online piracy by giving the Justice Department authority to block offshore websites that take part in the illegal sale of everything from bootleg films to fake pharmaceuticals.
Almost 100 Internet engineers and cyber security experts have security concerns over the bill. If passed, it would require Internet service providers and domain name registrars to block the domain names of foreign websites who have been accused of copyright infringement.
Opponents of the bill like Twitter and eBay claim that the effort to crack down on illegal downloads are too far reaching and more similar to censorship than security. Opponents of the bill from the House include Republicans Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. Democrats who oppose the bill are Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado.
When the committee resumes in January, it will have to vote on 30 amendments. These amendments were reportedly brought forth in an effort to slow down the House from approving the bill.
They voted on only a few Friday, including one amendment that would remove provisions allowing private copyright holders to seek court orders. This would require payment processors and online advertising networks to halt business operations with websites accused of copyright infringement. It was rejected in a 20-8 vote.
In a report from Technorati.com, a Florida attorney wrote that the passage of the SOPA bill could lead to the rise of what he calls, “The DarkNet.” A darknet can be used to conceal the location of an IP address of a piracy website. It runs by obscuring the detection of the internet and can’t be accessed without special client software.