Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

Protest against antipiracy laws cows lawmakers to withdraw support

The message could not have been clearer: Keep your hands off our Internet.

As protests spread — online and on the street — Wednesday against proposed federal legislation to fight movie and TV piracy over the Internet, several high-profile lawmakers withdrew their support for the bills, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Twitter feeds and Facebook pages for lawmakers filled with comments, as tech-savvy constituents voiced fears regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House of Representatives and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the Senate.

Both bills attempt to curb piracy of copyrighted materials on foreign sites by removing access to them by U.S.-based Internet users.

Some lawmakers reported hundreds of telephone calls to their offices as a "blackout" of services by sites like Wikipedia, Craigs­list, Reddit and Mozilla turned an issue that had simmered in the technology and media worlds into front page news.

Rubio, a Republican, announced on his Facebook page that he would no longer serve as a co-sponsor of PIPA, urging Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid to abandon plans to rush the bill to the Senate floor.

A spokesman for Rubio said he decided to withdraw his support as the day began Wednesday.

"We should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides," Rubio wrote. "(We should) come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet."

Florida's other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, remained supportive of the PIPA legislation, saying the proposed law would be improved.

Across the nation, legislators ranging from Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, removed or reduced their support for the bills. By day's end, at least 10 senators and nearly twice that many House members had announced their opposition.

The Wall Street Journal reported that both sides of the debate expect the legislation to be renegotiated in the weeks ahead.

A spokesman for Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, said he would likely drop his co-sponsorship of SOPA this week, particularly if chief sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, continues with plans to mark up the bill next month.

"We don't understand the rush," said Ross' spokesman Fred Piccolo. "Something this big and this controversial, we should take some time to consider it."

At Rep. C.W. Bill Young's office, a spokesman reported getting hundreds of calls about the legislation in recent days and thousands of responses from constituents over the past few weeks. The Pinellas County Republican has told members of the committee developing SOPA that he opposes it, according to press secretary Harry Glenn.

"He would see it as censorship," Glenn said.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, expressed similar concerns in an email to the Times, writing, "I am opposed to SOPA but remain interested in effective ways to address online piracy."

Thousands of websites participated in the protest "blackout" Wednesday, either directing users to contact lawmakers or featuring stories about the possible consequences of both bills.

Critics say the legislation might fail to curb piracy while causing loads of unintended consequences — overly restricting Internet access to foreign platforms.

"The blackout scared (legislators)," said Michael Hussey, editor of the Tampa Bay area political blog Pushing Rope, who participated in the protest. "It worked."

Times staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report.

Comments
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Updated: 3 hours ago
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18