House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) fired back strongly at critics of SOPA Wednesday, accusing various tech companies and their executives of not understanding the bill. He made a point of singling out Google for its opposition, calling it "self-serving."
"Companies like Google have made billions by working with and promoting foreign rogue websites so they have a vested interest in preventing Congress from stopping rogue websites," Smith said. "Lawful companies and websites like Google, Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook have nothing to worry about this bill," he added.
Smith’s response came after an ad that Google’s Sergey Brin, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark launched Wednesday strongly criticizing the legislation. The ad featured an open letter to Congress and was set to run in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications. The ad says that Smith’s bill and the companion legislation in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), would chill innovations online, "deny website owners the right to due process” and hand “the U.S. government the power to censor the Web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran."
They also said the bills would "undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet."
Smith called the ad "nonsense," adding that amendments he unveiled this week addressed the major criticisms of SOPA.
The revision “narrows the scope of the bill to ensure that it only applies to foreign rogue websites,” Smith said. He also said that the amendments clarify the definition of rogue sites "as foreign websites primarily dedicated to the sale and distribution of illegal or infringing material or foreign websites that market themselves as websites primarily dedicated to illegal or infringing activity."
Smith also said critics have ignored his attempts to address the issues they have with the bill and accused them of "spreading lies about the legislation in an attempt to stall efforts by Congress to combat foreign rogue websites."
But his harshest criticism was for Google:
"In August, Google paid half a billion dollars to settle a criminal case because of the search engine giant’s active promotion of foreign rogue pharmacies that sold counterfeit and illegal drugs to U.S. patients," Smith said. "Their opposition to this legislation is self-serving since they profit from doing business with rogue sites that steal and sell America’s intellectual property."
Google didn't take Smith's comments lying down:
"We fight pirates and counterfeiters everyday and we believe, like many other tech companies, that 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 or counterfeiting," Google said.
Google added that the changes Smith made to his bill to address critics didn't "clear up the tech industries’ concerns" that the measure would encourage government censorship on the Web and deprive site owners accused of hosting illegal content of due process.