Google has emerged as one of the biggest corporate critics of a House anti-piracy bill, with co-founder Sergey Brin now likening the proposal to Internet censorship practices in China and Iran.
Brin took to the Google+ social networking site Thursday to post his opinion of the Stop Online Piracy Act being debated Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee for markup. He also opposes the Senate’s version of the measure, known as the Protect Intellectual Property Act.
“Imagine my astonishment when the newest threat to free speech has come from none other but the United States. Two bills currently making their way through congress -- SOPA and PIPA -- give the U.S. government and copyright holders extraordinary powers including the ability to hijack DNS and censor search results (and this is even without so much as a proper court trial),” Brin wrote. “While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don't believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.”
Some lawmakers have bristled at those comparisons.
During the hearing, Rep. Berman (D-Calif.) attacked similar analogies made by Rep. Lofgren (D-Calif.) about SOPA’s ability to censor Web users through surveillance and filtering of their activities.
“That’s nonsense,” Berman said. “There’s a big difference between regulating commercial activity designed to deceive consumers and violate ownership rights and those seeking to suppress political conduct and dissent.”
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), SOPA’s lead author, said at the hearing that there is not enough being done by Web giants to stop piracy. He said a search on Google that morning led to sites dedicated to illegal piracy.
“While the Internet should be free, it should not be lawless,” Smith said.
Here's Brin’s full post: