Following the failures of SOPA and PIPA, a pair of misguided legislative attempts to outlaw Internet piracy that both stalled in Congress earlier this year, one California politician is calling for Congress to halt on considerations for any new Internet-related bills.
Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, took to Reddit on Tuesday to try and rally support for a bill that would put a two year ban on Congress from passing legislature seeking to govern the Internet. He’s asking for feedback.
The federal government’s recent attempts to nail down some form of Internet regulations have been met with huge backlash from the web. First it was the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which both failed in the face of protests from Wikipedia, Google, Mozilla, and several other web giants who viewed the bills as a not-so-subtle means of censoring the Internet.
Then, late last year, came the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), that basically allowed the government to monitor anyone’s Internet activity under the mission of investigating cyber security threats. Critics called it the Son of SOPA. Facebook and Microsoft said it sounded like a good idea, largely because it didn’t require companies collecting data to provide it with the government. But CISPA still would have opened up more access for the feds to access private data, as IP lawyer Henry Cittone told us last year. The House passed it in April; it has since been tabled, and the Obama Administration has criticized it for lacking civil liberty protections.
Issa published a draft of his proposal, The Internet American Moratorium Act, on his website, keepthewebopen.com. Essentially, the bill would put the brakes on any new rules and regulations put forth by Congress or the Obama Administration “that would require individuals or corporations engaged in activities on the Internet to meet additional requirements or activities.”
“After SOPA, PIPA, and other smaller brush fires in Internet policy over the last few years, if we learned nothing, we learned we can’t rush through policy without open debate and discussion,” a spokesman for Issa told The Daily Beast.
It’s a bit of a turn for Issa, who vehemently pushed for the passage of CISPA earlier this year. Citing the Congressman’s seeming about-face, one Redditor called Issa “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” And it is fair to question Issa’s change, especially because Internet regulation is a interesting ideological point for Republicans, who are both anti-regulation but pro-security. Perhaps he’s decided that Congress’s bumbling regulation will hurt the web economy more than it could help track security threats? That seems more likely than Issa waking up one day and deciding that all those Internet folk really need the privacy they’ve been shouting about.
Of course, there’s a third option: after seeing how Obama got out the vote on Reddit, perhaps Issa’s decided to try to drum up some of his own support. Check out the bill and give Issa your input here.