Tag Archives: lobbying

Against SOPA and PIPA, for an open Internet

If you haven’t heard of SOPA and PIPA, you will today, as reddit, Wikipedia, Google, Craigslist, Free Software Foundation, and many other websites protest those Internet censorship bills today. The so-called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a House bill (H.R.3261) and the so-called PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is a Senate bill (S.968) (most recently renamed Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011). Both have nothing to do with promoting creativity and everything to do with giving a few large copyright holders priority over the Internet, requiring censorship of links to entire domains. Have you heard of the Great Firewall of China? That’s where the Chinese government censors entire domains such as facebook, youtube, and twitter because they contain some content that the Chinese government doesn’t want distributed. SOPA and PIPA would do the same thing, except putting Hollywood in charge of what would be censored. In a perfect example of the DC lobbying revolving door, former Senator Chris Dodd, now Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the anti-SOPA blackout an “abuse of power”. Funny how it’s only an abuse of power when we fight back.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Mythbuster Adam Savage.

Here’s a technical explanation. And here’s a letter of objection many of the engineers who built the Internet.

Here’s where the anti-SOPA blackout started: Continue reading

Why SOPA and PIPA are bad

SOPA and PIPA are not dead, as Mikki Barry reminds us. She points at an excellent writeup on why we should care.

Tom Evslin wrote on Fractals of Change at some unknown data, SOPA and PIPA are Bipartisan Bad Policy, Really Bad Policy

In China you can’t get to some Internet sites: no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter. Search engines can’t find the “Falun Gong” or “Tiananmen Square massacre”. We would never do that kind of blocking here in the US, you say. Well, not so fast. If either House bill SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) or Senate bill PIPA (Protect IP Act) or something in between passes both houses of Congress and is signed by the President, Internet censorship, unreachable websites, and forbidden searches will be the law of this land.

The Arab Spring has been enabled by the inability of some governments to block Internet communication. SOPA and SIPA both require that Internet blocking tools be developed and deployed here. Maybe we trust our own government not to misuse these (I don’t!); but do we really want to be responsible for the proliferation of censorship and blocked communication?

Why, you ask, would our Congresspeople want to impose censorship anywhere? Why would they want to slow down the most vigorous parts of the US economy?

The answer, at least, is simple. These are bills that Hollywood wants to protect its movies from online piracy, and Hollywood makes mega-campaign contributions and even gives Congresspeople bit parts in its movies. There is nothing partisan about campaign contributions.

Why? The DC lobbying revolving door banana republic, of course, made even worse by the SCOTUS Citizens United decision.

As for the Arab Spring, the powers that be here don’t want that here. Remember who propped up Mubarak all those decades.

When even Patrick Leahy pushes PIPA, something is seriously wrong with the U.S. government. SOPA or PIPA or something watered down that their pushers can claim isn’t as bad will pass unless the people stand up and stop it.


Duopoly Cons Congress Members

73 Democratic members of Congress signed a letter drafted by telco and cableco lobbyists against net neutrality. Save the Internet has sufficiently fisked it. My favorite point is that when AT&T was required as a condition of acquiring Bellsouth in 2006 to abide by net neutrality, it increased its infrastructure investments. As soon as that two year requirement was up, so were the investments. (And they didn’t even honor all the requirements, such as a low-end $10/month service.)

The simple fact is that net neutrality was the condition under which the Internet grew to be what it is today, which is the last bastion of free speech and a free press in much of the world, especially in the United States. The only reason net neutrality is an issue is that the duopoly (telcos and cablecos) succeeded in their regulatory capture of the FCC during Kevin Martin’s term as chairman and did away with much it. The U.S. used to have among the fastest Internet speeds in the world. Since the duopoly got their way, the U.S. has fallen far behind dozens of other countries in connection speeds, availability, and update. While the U.S. NTIA claimed at least one user per ZIP code counted as real service.

We can let the telcos and cablecos continue to turn the Internet into cable TV, as they have said they want to do. Under the conditions they want, we never would have had the world wide web, google, YouTube, flickr, facebook, etc.

And left to their plan, the duopoly will continue cherry-picking densely-populated areas and leaving rural areas, such as south Georgia, where I live, to sink or swim. Most of the white area in the Georgia map never had anybody even try a speed test. Most of the rest of south Georgia had really slow access. Which maybe wouldn’t be a problem if we had competitive newspapers (we don’t) or competing TV stations (we don’t). Or if we didn’t need to publish public information like health care details online, as Sanford Bishop (D GA-02) says he plans to do. How many people in his district can even get to it? How many won’t because their link is too slow? How many could but won’t because it costs too much?

John Barrow (D GA-12) has a fancy flashy home page that most people in his district probably can’t get to. Yet he signed the letter against net neutrality.

I prefer an open Internet. How about you?

Why did the 73 Democrats sign the letter? Could it have to do with the duopoly making massive campaign contributions to the same Democrats and holding fancy parties for them?

The same lobbyists are after Republican members of Congress next.

Call your member of Congress and insist on giving the FCC power to enforce net neutrality rules.


T-Mobile Lobbying: $700K in Q1 2008

michelle-persaud.jpg T-Mobile hasn’t made the news like AT&T, Comcast, and Cox for violating net neutrality, but has nonetheless been busy lobbying behind the scenes:
WASHINGTON – Telecommunications carrier T-Mobile USA Inc. spent nearly $700,000 in the first quarter to lobby on spectrum matters and other issues, according to a disclosure report.

T-Mobile, which is owned by German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG (nyse: DT – news – people ), also lobbied the federal government on legislation involving wireless taxes, privacy and various consumer protection issues.

The company, the nation’s fourth largest cellular carrier, also lobbied lawmakers on the issue of “Net neutrality,” or the principle that all Web traffic be treated equally. Some Internet providers want to charge content providers extra to get their Web sites to load faster. Lawmakers have proposed legislation to make Net neutrality the law of the land.

T-Mobile spent $700,000 lobbying in first quarter, Associated Press, 05.30.08, 5:26 PM ET

The T-Mobile lobbyist pictured is Michelle Persaud, former Democratic staff council for the House Judiciary Committee.