Internet & Technology
Senator Wyden has long been out front of efforts to create, promote and protect a free and open Internet. As author of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 -- a landmark law establishing the principle that website owners can not be held liable for user-generated content -- Wyden has been credited with helping lay the groundwork for the 21st century Web and sites like Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
In 1998, he coauthored the Internet Tax Freedom Act barring federal state and local governments from taxing Internet access and imposing discriminatory taxes that would have discouraged Internet deployment and usage. He has overseen two campaigns to renew that law and keep thousands of state and local taxing authorities from setting up tollbooths on the Internet. He wrote the very first electronic privacy bill which laid the framework for a system that would ensure consumer confidence while allowing the development of new business models. And he authored the Electronic Signatures law making it possible to approve documents digitally. Wyden was among the first to speak out in defense of “net neutrality” and he blocked action on the Telecommunications Act of 2006 because it failed to include language preventing network discrimination.
Wyden, however, may be best known for his lone stance against Senate legislation that would have given rights’ holders the ability to censor websites accused of copyright infringement. In late 2010, Wyden place a “hold” on the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act” (COICA) citing its overreaching provisions which would have rolled back the Internet’s Section 230 protections while undermining Internet security and free speech. By preventing COICA from being passed by unanimous consent, Wyden’s hold effectively killed the legislation which many predicted was on a glide path to becoming law as it was backed by powerful interest groups and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously. In 2011, Wyden placed a similar hold on COICA’s successor legislation, the “PROTECT IP Act.” His relentless efforts to draw attention to the problems with the bill encouraged other legislators to join his hold and made way for the historic Internet protests held on January 18, 2012. These protests ultimately eroded support for PROTECT IP and its House companion legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
In 2007, PC World included Wyden on its list of “The 50 Most Important People on the Web” and he has received countless awards for his work on Internet and technology policy including: the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s 2011 Pioneer Award, Public Knowledge’s 2011 IP3 Award, and the Consumer Electronic Association’s 2012 Digital Patriot Award.
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