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January 18, 2012

Updated: Seven of Maryland's 10 Congresspeople have not taken a stand on SOPA/PIPA

{Note: This post was updated below to indicate that Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, who had been listed on ProPublica's website as not having a view on SOPA, does not in fact support SOPA in its current form.}


Everyone is talking today about SOPA, the controversial House bill (Stop Online Piracy Act) and what effect it may have on the Internet, freedom of speech, and e-commerce if it becomes U.S. law.

For a good overview of the bill (and it's sister bill in the Senate called PIPA), check out the Wikipedia entry for it. Wikipedia is one of thousands of websites that have gone on a voluntary blackout today to protest SOPA/PIPA. It's a fascinating day for Internet citizens. They are making their voices heard.

The Obama White House last week came out against the bills as they've been written. Here in Maryland, our state's citizens who are tuned into the debate are eagerly waiting to see what their representatives to Congress think of the pair of bills.

Sen. Cardin supports the bill in broad terms as a co-sponsor, but stated this month that he wouldn't back it in its current form. “I would not vote for final passage of PIPA, as currently written, on the Senate floor," he said in a press release quoted in Talking Points Memo.

According to ProPublica, Maryland's other senator -- Barbara Mikulski -- and eight seven representatives in the House have been silent on the bills.

UPDATED at 3:20pm: However, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, has come out against SOPA in its current form, in recent weeks. He has communicated his position with his constituents (you can see the email in the reader comments below), and an aide to the Congressman alerted me to a blog post today where he re-emphasized his position against SOPA.

UPDATED at 3:45pm: Rep. John Sarbanes put out a statement today saying he was against SOPA in its current form. I predict that we'll suddenly see a few more folks come out against SOPA now that it seems like it's becoming radioactive in Washington.

What do our other reps really think about SOPA and PIPA? Well, we don't know. Yet.

Another site, called SopaTrack, shows how much money each of Maryland's representatives have attracted from pro- and anti-SOPA/PIPA donors. Each representative has received more funding from supporters of SOPA/PIPA -- in some cases, a lot more -- than from the bills' critics.

At this point, SOPA and PIPA seem like a pair of dirty words in Washington. Does anyone really think these bills are going anywhere and won't be dead in the water in a few weeks' time?

Oh, and if you're looking for what some local (Baltimore) musicians think of SOPA, check out the latest from our entertainment blogger Erik Maza.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:45 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*


I received the following from Dutch Ruppersberger earlier this month:

This letter acknowledges receipt of your correspondence regarding H.R. 3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act." I appreciate hearing your views on this important matter.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced by Representative Lamar Smith on October 26, 2011, and was subsequently referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it is currently undergoing committee hearings.

SOPA is a hard hitting attempt to address the legitimate problem of illegal downloads of copyrighted work like movies, television shows and music. I believe that artists and the companies that create content should be able to protect their information. However, this legislation forces internet service providers to be the policing authorities on the beat to find, hunt, and shut down illegal pirate websites or the service provider is held liable for the copyright infringement. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will have to maintain a list of banned websites. While SOPA would act as a filter for offending websites, as soon as these websites are shut down, similar copies are set up very quickly. ISPs and the Department of Justice will spend their time going after pirate websites that can be renamed and changed in an instant. I do not believe this is the most efficient way to solve the problem of piracy.

As ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I work closely on various cyber security issues. Both the Sandia National Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security took the position that SOPA will hurt US efforts to keep our networks secure and safe from serious cyber attacks. SOPA in its current form will hinder our ability to go after the real offenders and threats to our networks.

I hope that all stake holders can sit down and develop a compromise solution. SOPA in its current form is a one-sided firewall that I believe limits innovation and hurts free speech and threatens our ability to stop cyber attacks.

Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future if you have any questions or comments. To receive additional information about issues that are facing Congress, Maryland, and the Nation that may affect you and your community, please visit my Web site at and sign up for my periodic e-mail newsletter.


C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Member of Congress

Thanks, Jack. Good to know at least SOMEONE from our state at least appears to be thoughtful about this situation.

Gus, please provide the link to the EFF web site that helps you contact your representatives automatically about SOPA/PIPA. This way, people can go directly to the site and contact their representatives, especially Ben Cardin, who pointedly was one of the original co-sponsors of the Senate legislation. While he appears to now be (somewhat) backtracking on his original stance, we need to take him to task for this and make sure not only that the legislation dies now, but that it does not sneakily reappear later, as is a common practice by congressmen/lobbyists. For more information about this legislation and the disgusting lobbyists behind it (i.e. the infamous and immoral Chris Dodd), go here:

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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