WASHINGTON — Five days before a critical vote, senators are abandoning an anti-piracy bill they had supported after an outpouring of online opposition to tinkering with Internet freedoms.
Senate Democratic leaders still plan to vote Tuesday on taking up the Protect International Property Act and supporters were scrambling to make changes before then to answer some of the critics, but it was questionable whether they had the 60 votes needed.
A half-dozen of the 40 original co-sponsors of what is known as the PIPA bill withdrew their support Wednesday amid a one-day protest blackout by Wikipedia and other Web giants and a flood of emails to Capitol Hill offices that at times doubled normal volumes.
When more than 7 million sign a petition on Google saying the Senate bill and its counterpart in the House would censor the Web and impose burdensome regulations on U.S. businesses, lawmakers listen.
On Wednesday, a chart on the website ProPublica showed PIPA and a parallel bill in the House had 80 supporters and 31 opponents. Thursday it showed 63 supporters and 117 opponents.
"The overwhelming input I've received from New Hampshire citizens makes it clear there are many legitimate concerns that deserve further consideration before Congress moves forward with this legislation," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., one of the senators who pulled back her support.