Stop Online Piracy Act, had it been successfully enacted, would have given US law enforcement agencies the ability to legally bar search engines from linking to websites that were deemed to host copyright-violating content (whatever that may be), provided said agencies were able to obtain a court order.
It also would have given law enforcement the ability to bar advertisers and e-commerce payment providers from doing business with offending websites, but the bill's real party peace was its ability to block access to infringing websites at the ISP level.
If you think that sounds oddly familiar, that's because it's essentially what The Patriots were trying to accomplish in Metal Gear Solid 2, although the bill's less clandestine methodology wouldn't have required the construction of a massive submersible aquatic fortress.
- As troubling as all that sounds, internet legislation isn't really in our wheelhouse since we're a video game website and everything. Once Nintendo, Sony and EA all put their weight behind the bill, however, the issue suddenly fell under our jurisdiction and became much more complicated, especially once Microsoft, Apple and a consortium of other tech giants expressed their support.
- Of course, anything that threatens the Internet's right to free speech is swiftly met by the razor-sharp blade of e-activism, with the whole of the Internet collapsing into a singularity of outrage aimed directly at the companies in support of the bill. As public objection grew, Microsoft, Apple and the other members of the Business Software Alliance rescinded their support almost immediately. Nintendo, Sony and EA followed suit shortly thereafter, though the ESA (of which they are all members) remained in support of SOPA.
- Rep. Lamar Smith (who had originally authored the bill) eventually announced that he was removing the DNS-blocking portions of the legislation, making the proposed bill somewhat less insane, but still plenty dangerous. Shortly thereafter, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa cancelled a scheduled hearing and indefinitely postponed voting on SOPA, effectively placing the bill into a state of suspended animation. A similar hold was placed on SOPA's Senate sister PIPA, which sought to accomplish the same goals. It was not until both pieces of legislation had effectively been killed that ESA withdrew its support.