The Republican Party pleasantly surprised open Internet advocates on Tuesday by including support for “Internet freedom” in its official 2012 platform. Tech advocates still object to the GOP platform’s continued opposition to net neutrality standards and argue that the platform’s support for some aggressive trade policies is inconsistent with its language on Internet freedom.

The Internet freedom language marks an about-face for most Republican members of Congress, who had supported the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), along with most Democrats, until online protests derailed the House bill just days before a key vote in January.

On Wednesday, the Hollywood lobby, which had aggressively pushed to enact SOPA, endorsed the Republicans’ latest stance. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), released a statement praising language that would have barred SOPA from passage.

“The Republican Party platform language strikes a very smart balance: it emphasizes the importance of us doing more as a nation to protect our intellectual property from online theft while underscoring the critical importance of protecting Internet freedom,” Dodd said in a statement. “I agree wholeheartedly with my friends in the Republican Party that we must protect the free flow of information on the Internet while also protecting American innovators. It is imperative to our national economy and our national identity that we protect an Internet that works for everyone.”

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