Sen. Marco Rubio said this morning that he is dropping support for a controversial Internet piracy bill, contending it is being rushed through the legislative process and could have "unintended consequences." His retreat comes on the day of a national protest.
Rubio wrote on Facebook: "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. ...
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."
UPDATE: Rubio's retreat comes on the day of a national protest and after weeks of criticism from constituents and some prominent conservatives, including Red State blogger Erick Erickson.
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson had joined Rubio in sponsoring the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA. Nelson's spokesman Dan McLaughlin said the bill will be changed, improved. "He’s always been one of the Senate’s biggest advocates of privacy and consumer protections. At the same time, something has to be done about piracy and counterfeiting via foreign websites."
Erickson of Red State wrote to readers:
This morning I noted that we should primary Senators and Representatives on the left and right who refuse to back away from SOPA and Protect IP.
Included in the list of sponsors, unfortunately, was Senator Marco Rubio. I would hate, hate, haaattttteeeee to primary such a great guy. We spent a lot of time, energy, effort, and money getting him elected. But SOPA/Protect IP is that bad.
Now, I’ve made clear that we wouldn’t do this unless the left was on board too and I’ve only really heard crickets from them. But it was a threat so many of us felt needed to be made to emphasize just how bad this legislation is.
Today, about an hour ago, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida showed again why he is a real leader and listener within the conservative movement. He is dropping his co-sponsorship of Protect IP.
I hope other Republicans in the Senate follow his leadership on this issue. and please call Senator Rubio’s office and thank him for his leadership. His number is (202) 224-3041. We often fight. We should also often say thanks.