Internet to Help Filibuster Protect IP ActNovember 22, 2011 2:58 pm ·
A few weeks ago, I posted an article discussing two controversial bills—the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). If passed as they are currently constructed, I argued, the ramifications would be “disastrous” in nature. By empowering and encouraging web intermediaries, including social networks and ISPs, to play the role of censor, these bills threaten the already questionable accountability of powerful private interests to the public at large. Free to act on so much as an unverified allegation that a site “engages in, enables or facilitates” copyright infringement, companies would be granted an unprecedented amount of power by the passage of SOPA and PIPA.
As one of these bills creeps closer to coming up for a vote, however, public resistance to its passage continues to increase. Likely to come to the Senate floor in coming weeks, the Protect IP Act will by no means be an easy bill to pass. According to Raw Story, Senator Ron Wyden, who has argued that PIPA will “muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth,” has now promised that he will filibuster the bill if it comes up for a vote.
Unlike traditional filibusters, however, Wyden plans to deliver his speech with the assistance of a unique partner—the Internet.
Partnering with political action committee Demand Progress, Wyden helped launch a petition website called Stop Censorship, in which a video message from the Senator (see below) encourages visitors to tell their lawmakers to oppose the passage of both bills. Wyden also promises that those who sign the petition—currently more than 60,000 total—will have their name read on the floor of the Senate during the filibuster.
“The ‘at all costs’ approach these bills take to protecting intellectual property sacrifices cyber security while restricting free speech and innovation,” the video address warns. “Congress needs to hear from people like you, who understand the value of a fair and free Internet.”
If the time for a filibuster does come, Senator Wyden’s use of an “Internet-fueled” filibuster would be the first of its kind.
“My boss couldn’t feel more strongly about this issue,” said one of Wyden’s aides. “He will do a standing filibuster, but at this point, we don’t necessarily have the votes to sustain his filibuster.”
“Our main goal is to continue to slow down this process and continue to educate members of Congress on why [the Protect IP Act is] the wrong approach,” he concluded.
Having already successfully prevented elements of both bills from coming to the floor just days ago by placing a hold on the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), Senator Wyden is quickly becoming the champion of Internet freedom.