Hitting the pause button on SOPA and PIPA

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Thousands of sites on Wednesday went dark in protest over the controversial and broad nature of SOPA and PIPA, the anti-piracy bills that are being considered in Congress, bringing awareness to millions of web surfers. Just take a look at this Twitter account scanning through the complaints about Wikipedia’s blackout to get a general idea of how many homework assignments went unfinished (there’s some frank language in there, so tread carefully).

Both bills have been critically debated by many within the tech industry over the dangers that the incredibly broad nature of the powers they propose to use against illegal sites hosting pirated material inherently have.

Imagine shutting down a street because someone decided to paint their house with something obscene, and you’ll get the gist of just how broad those powers could be. Never mind that you buy your groceries at a corner store on the same street. That’s just too bad.

Now it looks like the doubts that many have had over both has finally earned some action on Capitol Hill. Or rather, inaction.

According to Reuters, both the Senate and the House of Representatives had decided to delay a critical vote on the bills scheduled for the 24th for the foreseeable future. SOPA and PIPA aren’t dead, but it’s clear that Wednesday had been a wake up call for many of the bill’s supporters…some of whom have withdrawn their support.

And according to ProPublica’s Nerd Blog, opposition in Congress surged following Wednesday’s blackout as you can see in the image above. That number includes a few of the co-sponsors for bills.

Everyone sees eye to eye that there’s clearly a need to deal with piracy. But it’s just as clear that passing legislation with deep, and potentially devastating, flaws is not the way to do it.