A Republican representative key in the formulation of the US' SOPA act has reiterated he and his party will continue to support the controversial bill.
Speaking to Reuters Republican Representative Lamar Smith clarified that despite fierce public and industry opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, the party would be pressing forward with its plans.
Rubbing salt in the nay-sayers' wounds, Smith went on to suggest that not supporting SOPA was somehow un-American. "It is amazing to me that the opponents apparently don't want to protect American consumers and businesses," Reuters reported Smith as commenting during a telephone interview.
Later adding: "Are they somehow benefiting by directing customers to these foreign websites? Do they profit from selling advertising to these foreign websites? And if they do, they need to be stopped. And I don't mind taking that on."
Smith's comments come in the wake of his claim that online piracy was currently costing American consumers and industry in-excess of $100 billion per year - a figure many research groups have questioned. A key proponent of the SOPA, Smith is currently chairing the the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee overseeing the bill.
Designed to combat online piracy, since being announced the SOPA bill has come under wide-spread criticism, with numerous groups voicing concerns about the new powers the act could grant U.S. law enforcement. A common concern is the suggestion that the act will allow police to arrest, fine and potentially jail individuals for seemingly minor offences, such as uploading a copyrighted video onto YouTube.
Most recently, as well as smaller companies like social news site Reddit, several big-name tech companies including Google, Facebook and Wikipedia have publicly voiced their opposition. Speaking to the Economic Club of Washington at the end of 2011, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt commented that the bill could "effectively break the Internet," going on to compare Smith's policy to the Chinese government's infamous censorship policy.
As well as opposition from companies, the bill has also attracted the attention of the hacktivist, Anonymous collective. In November 2011 the collective announced its ongoing OpBlackOut campaign. The campaign promised to see the collective mount a cyber vandalism campaign defacing the sites of companies supporting SOPA.
As well as the promised acts of defacement the collective has also taken more direct action, publishing the the names and decisions of U.S. Congressman participating in the vote on Pastebin. Anonymous is also currently mounting similar anti-censorship campaigns in Finland and the Netherlands protesting blocks to the Pirate Bay website.