The Protect IP Act (PIPA) has Unintended Consequences that Could Stifle Online Innovation and Threaten Free Speech
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote to begin debate on the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Now is the time to mobilize against passage of PIPA unless radical changes are made to the legislation.
PIPA aims to stop online piracy by limiting access to websites devoted to illegal activity. U.S. companies lose billions of dollars per year in illegal counterfeiting and piracy of their intellectual property. This, in turn, costs Americans jobs and discourages innovative content.
Make no mistake, Congress must find ways to stop foreign theft and online distribution of illegal content to U.S. consumers. But, unfortunately, provisions in PIPA appear to create unintended consequences that could stifle U.S. innovation, limit Americans' free speech rights, increase the risk of cyber-attacks, and undermine how the Internet functions. Such an impact would affect U.S. Internet consumers and entrepreneurs. We can't allow this to occur.
In light of the potentially dangerous consequences that could result from the current language in PIPA, Congress should not rush forward on this legislation. We can't afford to risk fundamentally changing the nature of the Internet or, potentially, slowing our nation's fragile economic recovery.
Instead, Congress should heed the warnings of our constituents, including many in the high-tech sector, to ensure that devastating unintended consequences do not result from this legislation becoming law.
Three significant parts of PIPA particularly concern me: (1) the provision requiring Domain Name Service blocking (which could make it more difficult to implement cyber-security measures), (2) the censorship of Internet search results by the government, and (3) the fact that it encourages lawsuits by private parties – in addition to government enforcement. Coloradans and the high-tech community also have raised related concerns about an overbroad definition of affected websites (sweeping in legitimate companies as well as foreign rogue website operators), unfunded mandates, and legal risk and uncertainty – not only for lawful websites but for consumers. It's no wonder that Coloradans are contacting my office in increasing numbers – voicing their objections to PIPA.
I believe it would be inappropriate for the Senate to pass any anti-piracy bill that includes provisions that have not been fully examined. Doing so could risk undermining Internet-based innovation, weaken Internet Security, and result in censorship. If PIPA moves forward for Senate debate, I will fight to ensure that a full range of amendments is considered to fix the bill. And I will oppose passage of PIPA if it is not significantly improved.
Let's work together to fight piracy – but also to ensure that we don't needlessly harm the innovation that the Internet continues to unleash.
Tell me your thoughts about PIPA. Please e-mail me at my Senate website: http://markudall.senate.gov/contact.