Maine's two U.S. congressional representatives say they're opposed to a controversial bill intended to crack down on Internet pirating.
The bill has unleased a firestorm of criticism from Web site operators, including Wikipedia, which shut down today in protest.
Maine Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, both Democrats, say the Stop Online Piracy Act--or SOPA, as the bill is known in the House--threatens to shut down legitimate Web sites and lead to Internet censorship.
"This proposal is supposed to stop online piracy but the bill is so vaguely worded that the result could be quite different," Pingree says in a statement. "All a big entertainment or Internet company would have to do is claim that a website is somehow linked to piracy and it would immediately be blocked and censored."
Michaud says he supports the aim of cracking down on websites that infringe U.S. copyrights, but he says "it must be done in a way that doesn't "shutdown legitimate websites, violate people?s rights and censor the internet."
A similar measure, known as the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA, is under consideration in the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Susan Collins says she's not happy with that bill in its present form. "I share the legitimate concerns that the anti-piracy legislation, as currently drafted, needs significant revision," Collins says in a statement. "Rather than the Senate moving too quickly on the PROTECT IP Act, we should instead proceed cautiously, in an open and fair amendment process, to ensure that the legislation is narrowly tailored to target criminals while also preserving the integrity of the Internet."
Sen. Olympia Snowe is also expessing reservations about the measure. According to a member of her staff, Snowe is reviewing the bill and "has concerns that we cannot have a federal over-reach of authority that would hamper innovation or compromise the inherent openness and freedom that are part and parcel of the Internet.”