Updated: In wake of SOPA blackouts, Senators Franken and Klobuchar still endorsing PIPA

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By Camella Mendez (updated 1/21 with quote from Senator Klobuchar)

Franken Klobuchar PIPAYesterday’s ‘SOPA blackout’ was cause enough to close the curtains on major websites like Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing for extended periods of time — up to 24 hours in some cases. Google, craigslist, Mozilla and many others leveraged their reach to inform the masses of congress’ radical plans to legislate, control and censor the global Internet in name of piracy.

But the heightened awareness – or lack thereof – failed to reach Minnesota’s own Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar who are co-sponsoring SOPA’s sister bill, PIPA. Though SOPA has been halted in the House (for now), PIPA is still alive and has the ability to inflict a crippling blow to Minnesota’s startup community if passed on January 24th.

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Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison Joins SOPA Blackout

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Today, Rep. Keith Ellison’s campaign website, keithellison.org, went black in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP ACT (PIPA).

Keith Ellison SOPA

“The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act would devastate free speech, Internet innovation, and job creation,” said Rep. Ellison. “I strongly oppose these bills and believe there are better ways to fight piracy without infringing upon Americans’ right to free speech.”

MN Senators Franken and Klobuchar co-sponsoring controversial Internet censorship legislation

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The Protect IP Act (PIPA) (S.968) was first proposed in the Senate in May by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) with the intention of stopping “rogue websites dedicated to infringing on counterfeit goods.” Initially cosponsored by other 11 Senators, including Minnesota’s Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, 28 peers have since joined.

A House equivalent, “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) (HR. 3261) was introduced in October, since which the House Judiciary Committee have examined surrounding issues of SOPA in mid November and subsequently debated changes last week.

PIPA is targeting domain name system providers, financial companies, and ad networks — not companies that provide Internet connectivity — like SOPA. That basic idea here is to make new sets of intermediaries the checkpoints at which authorities can police for websites dealing in infringing content.  While SOPA has been garnering most of the headlines, for all intents and purposes, these are two peas of the same pod.

Financially motivated by interests who see a future based less on innovation and more on political protection, this legislation is paid for by organizations and corporations like MPAA, Dell, Microsoft, Sony, RIAA, IIPA and the US Chamber of Commerce, amongst others.

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