I’m working on an article for class on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R. 3261. The article will be available on my blog within the next week or so, I hope, which will also link to many other articles discussing the bill. Until then, I wanted to provide information for anybody located within the 18th district of Illinois.
While my attempt to contact the Aaron Schock fell short, I was able to reach out to his communications director, Steve Dutton.
I have reproduced Mr. Dutton’s email to me, unedited (except for links), in which he provided Schock’s stance on SOPA.
While Congressman Schock does not deny that copyright infringement is an issue that needs to be addressed, he also believes that heavy-handed regulation of the internet is not the way to handle it. As written, H.R. 3261 gives sweeping power to internet regulators, and he is concerned that such broad authority will lead to censorship of even legitimate websites if there is even the smallest implication of copyright infringement.
This regulation would move the internet community from one based on its free market capabilities toward an internet regulated by the government. This is problematic because the technology behind the internet has grown so fast in recent years that government regulation cannot keep pace, causing a situation where the government would, in essence, be hindering the growth of an entire industry and communications medium.
Congressman Schock supported legislation in the House of Representatives in the Spring of 2011 that expresses Congress’s disapproval over the FCC’s regulatory actions with regard to the internet and broadband policy. H.J. Res. 37 gained bi-partisan support to pass the House of Representatives.
He has also joined as a co-sponsor of legislation that would further address the regulatory power of the FCC with regard to the internet. The Internet Freedom Act (H.R. 96) will prohibit the FCC from exerting regulatory power over the internet independently of Congress. This legislation will ensure that Congress, the members of which answer to the citizens and businesses affected by regulation, make decisions on issues of internet regulation, rather than the FCC implementing regulation on its own. H.R. 96 has been sent to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and it is his hope it will come to the floor and be passed by the full House of Representatives.
Additional Background Information: H.R. 3261, and its companion bill in the Senate, S. 968, seek to prevent online piracy of copyrighted material by granting the federal government greatly expanded regulatory power over the internet. Under this legislation, the U.S. Attorney General would be empowered to shut down websites and domain names that are found to be facilitating copyright infringement. This authority extends to requiring search engines, payment network providers and internet advertisers to censor the websites with which they interact.