All blogs filed under SOPA/PIPA
  • Wyden Calls for Digital Bill of Rights at #PDF12

    Kicking off Personal Democracy Forum 2012 (known as #pdf12 on Twitter), Senator Wyden joined his OPEN Act co-author Representative Darrell Issa on stage with PDF founder Andrew Rasiej to discuss the “Internet’s New Political Power.”  In the 30 minute conversation, Wyden recalled the challenges over the past two years with legislating Internet policy—evoking COICA, PIPA/SOPA, ACTA, TPP, and CISPA.  He then highlighted the lessons learned on January 18th, 2012 when 15 million Americans spoke out to protect a free and open Internet, saying “the middle men got beat.”  Wyden also made news when he called for  the creation of a digital bill of rights when he said, “What we need is a way to measure how the voice of networks is protected and what I hope will happen out of this meeting is  that we will start a grass roots drive, really a net roots drive to create a digital bill of rights for this country..that would be a way to measure and check to make sure the Internet stays free.

    And today @RonWyden sent this tweet encouraging the convocation of an open, online digital bill of rights convention.

    Watch the full interview:

    Other notable tweets:

  • Senator Wyden Honored for Leadership in Technology

    This week Senator Wyden was honored by the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) with their 2012 Digital Patriot Award for his leadership in Congress advancing technology entrepreneurship and preserving innovation while securing an open, accessible Internet.  Most notably, CEA recognized his efforts to stall and ultimately defeat the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). 

    In his remarks, Wyden noted the grassroots effort to combat PIPA and SOPA saying, “The fight for the open Internet and the networks that empower it was a group.” Further, he reflected upon its impact on innovation initiatives, “This historic win in terms of the debate about [Protect IP] and SOPA was not primarily between overzealous rights holders and the protectors of the free and open Internet. It was also a proxy discussion for how we’re going to promote innovation in our country.”

    For the awards presentation, CEA showed the following video with remarks from Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Representative Darrell Issa (R-California), Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California), Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Representative Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Michael Petricone, Vinton Cerf, Michael McGeary and Gigi Sohn:

    Also receiving the 2012 Digital Patriot Award were David Rubenstein and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Senator Wyden’s co-author of the GPS Act—bipartisan legislation which creates a legal framework designed to give government agencies, commercial entities and private citizens clear guidelines for when and how geolocation information can be accessed and used.

    In related technology news:

    04/25/2012: During a Senate Finance hearing, Senator Wyden and his colleagues, made a strong case for new rules for digital commerce saying, “We’ve got smart phones today and dumb tax policies.” Wyden and others are seeking to enact legislation this year to end discriminatory taxes on wireless services and digital goods and services.

    04/26/2012: Senator Wyden joined the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) Washington Caucus to discuss issues facing today's technology and trade industries, including the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, negotiations and the Jackson-Vanick amendment. [View photos.] In March, Wyden pressed U.S. Trade Representative Kirk on the ongoing TPP negotiations.

    03/15/2012: Senator Wyden delivered the keynote address at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) Annual Dinner celebrating Internet innovation.

    Digital Trade
  • My Letter to the Internet

    (Note: This blog was originally posted by Senator Wyden on Huffington Post.)


    (Above: Senator Wyden signing his letter to the Internet.)

    Dear Friends:

    Today, thousands of websites have chosen to voluntarily go offline or modify their home pages with public service information. Some have called this a stunt. I say it's a brave and poignant reminder that we can't take the Internet for granted.

    The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life precisely because it has been an open-to-all land of opportunity where entrepreneurs, thinkers and innovators are free to try, fail and then try again. The Internet has changed the way we communicate with each other, the way we learn about the world and the way we conduct business. It has done this by eliminating the tollgates, middle men, and other barriers to entry that have so often predetermined winners and losers in the marketplace. It has created a world where ideas, products and creative expression have an opportunity regardless of who offers them or where they originate.

    Protect IP (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are a step towards a different kind of Internet. They are a step towards an Internet in which those with money and lawyers and access to power have a greater voice than those who don't. They are a step towards an Internet in which online innovators need lawyers as much or more than they need good ideas. And they are a step towards a world in which Americans have less of a voice to argue for a free and open Internet around the world.

    Proponents of these bills say these arguments are overblown, but I say any step towards an Internet in which one person's voice counts more than another is a step in the wrong direction. These are bills that should give us pause. These are bills that should be studied and debated. Congress should consult experts and consider alternatives and make 100% sure that any step it takes to police the Internet doesn't change the Internet as we know it. This is why I put a hold on the Protect IP Act and its predecessor over a year ago and introduced a bipartisan alternative last month.

    The Senate, however, has scheduled a vote for Tuesday, January 24 at 2:15 PM to override my hold and move the Protect IP Act towards passage. This will be the deciding vote that determines whether PIPA and SOPA move through the Congress or are turned back for more sober discussion.

    We are up against a group of the biggest, most powerful, well-funded and well-organized interest groups in Washington. No one thought millions of Internet users would speak up or that those voices could overcome the power of these interests. Today you showed that the Internet is not just a platform for ideas, commerce, and expression, but also for political action that will defend those principles. Your voices must continue to be heard.

    Thank you for standing up for what's important, for continuing to speak out and for demonstrating that we should always stand up for what we think is right regardless of the odds. This is an opportunity to reshape the way Washington operates, not just responding to narrow interests but hearing the voices of millions of Americans whose rights and livilihoods are affected by our actions.

    Senator Ron Wyden 

  • We Can't Take the Internet for Granted

    (Note: This blog was originally posted by Senator Wyden on Huffington Post.)

    Today, the House Judiciary Committee will be hearing testimony related to legislation designed to combat online copyright infringement. The House Bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and the Senate version, which I have pledged to block in its current form, pursue an at-all-costs approach to policing the net that would have grave repercussions to the Internet as we know it.

    While proponents of these bills would like to paint this issue as a simple matter of being for or against intellectual property, that would be a mistake.

    Just because we believe that a free and open Internet is something worth fighting to protect, does not mean that we aren't concerned about copyright infringement or that we are somehow oblivious to the fact that unscrupulous foreign suppliers are using the net to traffic counterfeit and illegal goods. They are and Congress is right to be considering remedies to stop them and to protect the hard work of our creative industries.

    Rather, those of us who value the Internet's growing role in our society recognize that any government intervention in the online ecosystem that is the Internet can and will have a ripple effect on more than just its bad actors. Interfering in the Domain Name System (DNS) for example would undermine the net's structure and harm cybersecurity efforts. Authorizing a private right of action, for example, wouldn't just allow rights holders to use the courts to protect their intellectual property. Companies could also abuse such authority to protect out-dated business models by quashing new innovations in their infancy and discouraging less than complimentary speech.

    In other words, the wrong approach to combating infringement could fundamentally change the Internet as we know it, moving us towards a world where transactions are less secure, ideas are less accessible and starting a website wouldn't be an option for anyone who couldn't afford a lawyer.

    The Internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives precisely BECAUSE it has been an open-to-all land of opportunity where entrepreneurs, thinkers and innovators are free to try and fail. The Internet has changed the way we communicate with each other, learn about the world and conduct business, BECAUSE instead of picking winners and losers, we created a world where all ideas have an opportunity to be heard regardless of where they originate.

    As Members of Congress we can now engage with our constituents via online innovations like the Huffington Post, while a small business in rural Oregon can use the Internet to find customers around the world. And the Internet isn't just becoming the global marketplace for goods and services, it is the marketplace of ideas challenging tyranny and championing democracy. It has made lies harder to sustain, information harder to repress and injustice harder to ignore.

    But while the Internet has become a dependable part of our lives, it is essential that we not take it for granted or make assumptions about a medium that is still taking shape and that few in Congress can say they fully understand.

    Moreover, it is important to remember that the Internet we know did not happen by accident. Rather, it grew from a set of principles that we deliberately put into law during a situation not unlike the one before the committee today. 

    Over 15 years ago, when Congress first started thinking about Internet regulation the concern was protecting children from pornography. There were competing ideas and some argued that Congress should simply censor the Internet and use the government to cut off access to objectionable material.

    But a few of us saw value in letting the Internet develop free from corporate or government control. Instead of having the government censor the web, we developed an approach that would empower users and technology to address content concerns on their own. And we took the opportunity to pass a law that said that neutral parties on the net are not liable for the actions of bad actors.

    That fundamental principle enshrined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act both addressed the problem and freed innovators to pursue bold new ideas that have led to sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the Huffington Post. So now, as we again debate web censorship, let's ask ourselves: what next generation of innovations won't be realized if we backtrack on that principal now?

    Yes, the Internet needs reasonable laws and bad actors need to be pursued, but the freedoms of billions of individual Internet users should not be sacrificed in the interest of easing that pursuit. The decisions we make to police the Internet today will also govern how this relatively new medium will continue to develop and shape our world. And yes, giving moneyed interests a louder voice and a greater ability to determine what that online world will look like, would fundamentally alter the Internet which currently treats all voices as equal.

    And that's not just my opinion, venture capitalists who fund Internet start-upsthe biggest and smallest actors in the tech communitylaw professors concerned with speech, Internet technologists, security experts and mainstream and new media have all expressed concerns about the legislation that has been advancing in Congress.

    So no, the central question that Congress should be asking itself today is not whether it will pursue policies that are pro-IP or against. The question Congress should be asking is "How will the remedies it pursues to combat online infringement impact the Internet as a whole?" I'm afraid that's a question that isn't being asked enough.