Senator Marco Rubio issued a press release this morning, announcing that he was withdrawing his support of the Protect IP Act (from his Facebook page):
A Better Way to Fight the Online Theft of American Ideas and Jobs
By Senator Marco Rubio
In recent weeks, we’ve heard from many Floridians about the anti-Internet piracy bills making their way through Congress. On the Senate side, I have been a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act because I believe it’s important to protect American ingenuity, ideas and jobs from being stolen through Internet piracy, much of it occurring overseas through rogue websites in China. As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs.
However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.
Earlier this year, this bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy. Since then, we've heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.
Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.
The amount of misinformation that has been circulating about Rubio's position on this issue has been frustrating (see my post from last month here).
Rubio's intention all along was to protect American intellectual property from piracy, not censor the internet. I have been emailing with a friend in Rubio's office during the past few weeks on this issue, and they have, as Rubio states above, been listening to the concerns many had about the potential "unintended consequences" of the legislation, and seeking suggestions for ways to narrow the scope of the bill and properly define the technological issues.
With all due respect, I think that the calls to primary Rubio from RedState and others were completely premature. Throughout this process, Rubio always was receptive to the suggestions and concerns that were shared with him. I am glad to see that RedState has declared detente after Rubio's announcement, and hope that in the future they communicate with the Senator's office, as I did, before deciding to abandon support for him so quickly.
We elect Senators to debate and analyze issues and legislation, which is exactly what Rubio was doing here. I would never expect my Senator to immediately rip his name off a bill the moment someone criticizes it, but rather to look at the criticism, see if there is merit to it, and proceed accordingly.
As a contrast: ObamaCare was a bazillion page nightmare that was rushed to a vote before anyone could read it, while PIPA was publicly presented, with time for the full text of the bill to be publicly debated and the positives and negatives fully vetted. In the end, after all the discussions, Rubio made the decision to withdraw support. Isn't that exactly how we would hope our elected representatives would act?