Chairman of the House Budget Committee and much-talked-about young member of the Republican party Paul Ryan has officially come out against the Stop Online Piracy Act. This afternoon, he released this statement on his site:
The internet is one of the most magnificent expressions of freedom and free enterprise in history. It should stay that way. While H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, attempts to address a legitimate problem, I believe it creates the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse. I do not support H.R. 3261 in its current form and will oppose the legislation should it come before the full House.
About time, Congressman Ryan. But why the official statement right now? It appears that reddit is taking some of the credit for this little victory.
Right now, a post from Rob Zerban is pulling in a lot of upvotes on the front page of reddit. Who is Rob Zerban you might ask? He is the man who is trying to unseat Paul Ryan from Wisconsin's 1st congressional district.
"Reddit successfully pressures Rep. Paul Ryan to back off support of SOPA," he says:
REDDIT! - Since my AMA you've generated a lot of buzz about SOPA and established yourself as a political force. After weeks of getting hammered by redditors, blogs and increasingly mainstream media for his inaction SOPA, Paul Ryan has today reversed course and denounced SOPA:
This is an extraordinary victory. Reddit was able to force the House Budget Chair to reverse course - shock waves will be felt throughout the establishment in Washington today - other lawmakers will take notice.
We still have much work to do. I encourage you to continuously pressure pro-SOPA/PIPA legislators and remain vigilant, this is merely the first of many battles to come.
About two weeks ago, Zerban did in fact hold an Ask Me Anything session on reddit. During that AMA, Zerban credited the subreddit OperationPullRyan for encouraging him to do the AMA.
OperationPullRyan is devoted to one thing: unseating Representative Ryan in 2012's elections. One of the issues oft-discussed there is SOPA, and Ryan's ambivalence toward the issue.
Until now, Paul Ryan didn't really have a firm stance on SOPA. It looks like something has changed that.
As CNET points out, Zerban hadn't exactly made SOPA a forefront issue until quite recently, but it looks like he might have jumped on an good opportunity when he saw it.
Of course, it's impossible to say what led Paul Ryan to publicly denounce SOPA. It's entirely possible that reddit didn't really have anything to do with it. But reddit has been leading the charge against the legislation, and it's not like the community is just a bunch of angry kids yelling off into space. Despite what Lamar Smith might think, reddit is a powerful entity when it comes to the SOPA issue. Just ask GoDaddy.