Less than 24-hours after promising not to yield, the Texas congressman and author of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) Lamar Smith is yielding on the bill's controversial language that would allow the government to censor the Internet -- for now. "After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the [Judiciary] Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision," Smith said in a Friday afternoon press release. "We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers."
First of all, three cheers for the Internet. (That's an evergreen sort of thing to say, but we're pretty sure the Internet is collectively cheering the new.) Second of all, it's still not time for civil rights types to start popping corks. The bill is not dead. As Chairman Smith says, the Judiciary Committee is only pumping the brakes on the progress of the bill, while Internet experts can properly study the implications of censoring the web by using DNS blocking. This is weird because pretty much every Internet expert in the country has unabashedly condemned SOPA's domain-blocking measures and, well, the entire bill. But it is certainly a little victory for the tens if not hundreds of thousands of freedom advocates who've been protesting the bill for months. If anything, it's a major, frankly embarrassing loss for Smith. Now, he not only looks like a hypocrite, he also looks like a waffler. Americans have a tendency not to (re-)elect wafflers.
Oh, and if you think that the attacks on SOPA's supporters, past and present, are going to end, think again. Anonymous has declared war on the media executives from Viacom, Disney and other organizations that have pushed the bill, opposed Occupy Wall Street, blocked WikiLeaks and pretty much anything else that's annoyed Anonymous in the past year or so. Since January 1, they've been pumping the internet full of personal details they've hacked from the files of everyone from Michael Bloomberg to Time Warner chief Jeffrey L. Bewkes, and of course, they've promised destruction. They're calling the project Operation Hiroshima.