Rupert Murdoch is not happy that the White House has decided to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act unless changes are made to protect freedom of expression. "So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery," he tweeted on Saturday, and now a tweet war is in full progress.
The Obama administration announced over the weekend that it would not support SOPA if it did not address threats to "an open and innovative" Internet. While SOPA is the name of one of the submitted bills, it has become shorthand for several pieces of proposed legislation, including the PROTECT IP Act and the Online Protection and Digital Enforcement Act.
In a statement from U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, IP Coordinator at the Office of Management and Budget Victoria Espinel, and Cybersecurity Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President Howard Schmidt, the administration noted that "online piracy by foreign Web sites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response."
However, the administration said that it "will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
Any effort to combat online piracy, the statement continued, "must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity." In particular, the administration said it opposed any effort to change the Domain Name System, given that "our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online."
The statement follows a wave of opposition to SOPA by a variety of lawmakers, content creators and individuals, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook.
'Piracy Leader Is Google'
Murdoch's News Corp. empire is well aware of the many sites that steal content, and SOPA and similar measures are being pushed hardest by those entertainment and media companies in similar positions.
In a subsequent tweet, Murdoch said that the "piracy leader is Google," because it "streams movies free, sell [advertisements] around them." He added that it's "no wonder" the search giant is "pouring millions into lobbying."
Following criticism of his remarks about Google, Murdoch counter-tweeted. He said that "film making" is "risky as hell," which had led to "hurting writers, actors, all concerned." When thousands responded in disbelief that Murdoch was basing his argument on downtrodden creatives, he responded that Google is a "great company doing many exciting things," and wrote that this was his only complaint with them.
For its part, Google has stated that it fights "pirates and counterfeiters every day." It added that, like many other tech companies, it believed the "best way to stop them is through targeted legislation that would require ad networks and payment processors -- like ours -- to cut off sites dedicated to piracy and counterfeiting."