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With Congress on break, SOPA fight continues

(CNN) -- Members of Congress may be on vacation, but that hasn't calmed critics who say an effort to stamp out online piracy would create an unprecedented threat to free speech on the Internet.

Far from fading from memory, the Stop Online Piracy Act (along with a related Senate bill) has become a rallying point for Web freedom advocates in a debate that has pitted Hollywood and other business interests against some of the biggest titans of the technology world.

Interest in the debate spiked again this week when one of the bill's opponents suggested that online heavyweights such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter had considered a "nuclear option" -- temporarily shutting down their sites in protest -- to raise awareness about the bills, which await lawmakers when they return this month.

When contacted by CNN, none of those companies would confirm that such a drastic move had ever been considered. By Friday, the advocate whose comments had fueled the speculation appeared to back away from claims that a Web blackout was still likely to occur.

"Internet and technology companies will continue to educate policymakers and other stakeholders on the problems with the (legislation)," Markham Erickson, director of Web trade association NetCoalition, said in a statement. "An 'Internet blackout' would obviously be both drastic and unprecedented." More...

01-09-2012 17:27