White House Responds to SOPA Petitions

It has not only been businesses that have been subjected to pressure from activists over the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. The Obama administration has also received petitions asking it to oppose the legislation. The White House released a statement late last week with its response.

Victoria Espinel with Attorney General Holder and Homeland Security Chief Napolitano

Victoria Espinel with Attorney General and Homeland Security Chief


The letter was signed by Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Howard Schmidt, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security. It addresses three key bills currently under debate: SOPA, the Protect IP Act, and the Online Protection and Digital Enforcement (OPEN) Act.

The letter addresses several key points and illustrates what the White House “will and will not support”. Among the issues mentioned are:

  • freedom of expression – The White House says it will not support a law that inhibits it. The laws should be designed to only target foreign sites beyond U.S. jurisdiction that are engaged in activities “clearly prohibited” under current U.S. laws.
  • Cybersecurity – DNS should not be tampered with in such a way that it disrupts the flow of the Internet or creates security problems.
  • Cooperation – All parties involved should cooperate to make the legislation work, rather than outright opposition to the bills.

The rest of the letter essentially defends the apparent necessity of new laws to fight piracy and defend intellectual property. It is important to note that even if the White House does not “support” a bill, that is no sure indication that the president will not sign it anyway, as was clear with the National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama signed on New Year’s Eve. Therefore, this letter from the White House may not slow down efforts to oppose SOPA, Protect IP, or OPEN.

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