Any Internet user who went to www.Wikipedia.com on Wednesday witnessed what could be the future for some websites.
The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act bills are looking to possibly censor websites that facilitate the piracy of material that has been copyrighted. Websites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter could all be affected if this bill is passed.
Congressman Dan Benishek released an official statement on his website in response to the proposed legislation.
The SOPA bill is currently stalled in committee in the House of Representatives and has not yet reached the floor.
Below is our interview with 1st Congressional District Representative Dan Benishek:
Where do you stand on SOPA?
Well, I haven't read it actually, but my staff has looked it over and apparently it's not quite right. I want to stop piracy, but this doesn't appear to be the bill to do it, from what I can tell so far. So far I'm against it.
Have you been receiving many calls regarding this issue?
Well apparently it's a big news day today. We have been getting a lot of calls. I mean, the Wikipedia thing and the Google thing got people up in arms about it. I guess I don't blame them, so we're getting some calls, that's for sure.
Do you use Wikipedia and Google at all, and is this [protests] affecting your day at all?
It's not affecting my day, but I use them all the time. I Google stuff all the time and I use Wikipedia sometimes to look stuff up. Haven't used them today, I've been too busy.
How is the opinion split from people you have been receiving calls from?
I think most people are against it. They've heard the criticism about it. It's got some expansive and broad definitions, and I think there is some potential to censor innocent people. Apparently the search engines and sites must remove the links, which would put burden of monitoring on people. There's abuse potential and it may not actually stop the piracy. It has a lot of problems. You need to be sure that people have their intellectual property protected, but I'm not sure this is the bill to do it.
Where does this bill currently stand in the House of Representatives?
I think it's stalled in committee right now. As I understand we're supposed to vote on it in committee today and bring it to the floor, but they held off on it amidst the criticism. I think there are going to be some further adjustments before it comes out.
Is support or opposition to the bill bipartisan?
I can't give you the details of that because I just got back here yesterday afternoon; I haven't really talked about it. I just got a couple of updates this morning because there is a lot of buzz in news media about it. So we've just had some staff look up some stuff. It's kind of scary some of the stuff, even controversial, political websites and legal websites could be blocked if they don't possess enough recourses to do a battle. It's a little scary, the potential for abuse. I think in its present form, it's not going to get to the floor.
Would this bill put too much stress on new businesses in an online world?
That's the beautiful thing about the Internet, you don't need a lot of capital to get going. You can start a business and move along nicely with a small amount of capital. This is going to put a lot of constraints on it. We have to figure out a better way to do it, looks like to me. Like I said, I haven't read the bill yet, so there's no way I won't be voting on it before I read it.
Somebody asked on Twitter about the current status and the chance of the bill passing.
I think that the mere fact that they held it in committee tells you that they're going to change it. I don't think it's going to come to a vote to the floor in its present form.