President Obama is reportedly considering appointing one of the biggest supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) as his new Secretary of State.
Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who represented the Hollywood area in Congress from 1982 until the 2012 election, when he was challenged and defeated by a fellow Democrat, is notorious among activists for his support of SOPA, a bill that was heavily sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and perceived to be so overzealous in shutting down Internet piracy that it was a threat to Internet freedom as a whole. The film industry has a long history of lobbying politicians, and gave $407,260 to Berman the past two years alone, according to Maplight.org.
SOPA never came to a vote when it was brought before Congress in January. A massive Internet strike against the bill, which included scores of Americans calling their representatives in Congress, led to a number of representatives renouncing their co-sponsorship. Berman was both an early supporter of SOPA and one of the remaining co-sponsors of the bill after it became clear it wouldn’t pass. The head of the MPAA, former Sen. Chris Dodd, infamously threatened to cut funding to candidates who didn’t keep supporting the bill.
Activist group Demand Progress recognized the possibility of Obama appointing Berman, and its members have created a petition against Berman getting the job. “If the United States really cares about global Internet freedom, there couldn't be a worse pick for Secretary of State than Berman, who's repeatedly tried to censor the web at Hollywood's behest,” Demand Progress says.
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