Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works

from the seconded dept

We usually strive to come up with our own headlines for posts on Techdirt, but Joshua Kopstein's post on Motherboard.tv has such a perfect title that we're reusing it here: Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works. The point, which was driving so many of us mad watching the SOPA hearings, is how head-bangingly frustrating it is to see elected officials gleefully admit they don't understand the technology they're about to regulate:
I remember fondly the days when we were all tickled pink by our elected officials’ struggle to understand how the internet works. Whether it was George W. Bush referring to “the internets” or Senator Ted Stevens describing said internets as “a series of tubes,” we would sit back and chortle at our well-meaning but horribly uninformed representatives, confident that the right people would eventually steer them back on course. Well I have news for members of Congress: Those days are over.

We get it. You think you can be cute and old-fashioned by openly admitting that you don’t know what a DNS server is. You relish in the opportunity to put on a half-cocked smile and ask to skip over the techno-jargon, conveniently masking your ignorance by making yourselves seem better aligned with the average American joe or jane — the “non-nerds” among us.
But this isn't about looking cute and folksy. The internet matters. A lot.
But to anyone of moderate intelligence that tuned in to yesterday’s Congressional mark-up of SOPA, the legislation that seeks to fundamentally change how the internet works, you kind of just looked like a bunch of jack-asses.
Kopstein goes into a lot more (worthwhile, go read it) detail about the bill, about the gleeful ignorance of some Judiciary Committee members, and then concludes:
This used to be funny, but now it’s really just terrifying. We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing — it’s just pathetic and sad.
This is a key point. Unfortunately, I've see way too many people supporting SOPA (especially among the lobbyist crew) act as if this is just some sort of game, where the goal is to "win." That's how DC politics works, but it doesn't take into account the very real impact of the damage that they're doing. If you're regulating the internet, it should at least be a pre-requisite that you are willing to understand the technology, or that you abstain from taking part in voting on (or writing) bills if you don't understand it. It's not funny. It's not cute. It's terrifying and it impacts us all.

So the real question is what is the way forward on this kind of thing? One would be to elect more technically savvy folks to Congress, but that's always difficult (and lots of tech savvy folks would rather be working in tech). Another would be to better educate those who are in Congress. Some of us are already working on that front with things like Engine Advocacy, but having more help and more voices would be a good thing.

Other than that, I think we should just make it clear to elected officials that people won't tolerate them gleefully displaying ignorance on issues that they're about to vote on. When Rep. Mel Watt declares proudly that he doesn't understand the technology, and then says he just doesn't believe the huge group of internet engineers who warn about the negative impacts of SOPA, he shouldn't get a free pass on that. The public needs to let him know that that's unacceptable from an elected official.

Things like this won't change overnight, but by making it clear that such things won't be tolerated by the voting public, we can at least start to influence the debate in a meaningful way. So speak up. When you see an elected official being purposely ignorant or cracking jokes about their ignorance tell them that they need to be educated and help them get that education.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    BeachBumCowboy, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 1:59pm

    Nothing New

    "I don't know how them fancy horseless carriages work. We better legislate that someone is waving a flag at all times in front of that auto-thing-a-majig so nobody gets hurt."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Things that make you go hmmm...

    "So the real question is what is the way forward on this kind of thing? One would be to elect more technically savvy folks to Congress, but that's always difficult (and lots of tech savvy folks would rather be working in tech). Another would be to better educate those who are in Congress. Some of us are already working on that front with things like Engine Advocacy, but having more help and more voices would be a good thing."

    Unlikely this will change a thing. Blagojevich tried to sell Obama's old position. Do you honestly think that was the first time that happened.

    The only way forward is too in effect lobby congress in the same way SOPA is. That is if you want things to change. No money, no way forward.

     

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    Mike42 (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Unfortunately, I've see way too many people supporting SOPA (especially among the lobbyist crew) act as if this is just some sort of game, where the goal is to "win."

    I think you just hit on the fundamental difference between your supporters and detractors, Mike.

    This isn't a game, where someone has to win and someone has to lose. This is real life, and EVERYONE stands to win or lose.

     

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  4.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    Willful ignorance

    The members of Congress have an office budget that allows them to hire experts to explain what a particular subject is. They can also send their staff to a brick and mortar store to buy internet for dummies. If they can't be bothered to educate themselves they should be voted out of office.

     

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  5.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    There should be a "congressional idiots guide to technology". Complete with pretty pictures and hand puppets they can play with.

     

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  6.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Willful ignorance

    Damn, you beat me to that by about 6 seconds!!

     

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  7.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Things that make you go hmmm...

    "The only way forward is too in effect lobby congress in the same way SOPA is."

    If there were only some technology out there, that allowed us to share information about everything our congress critters were doing.

    /s

     

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  8.  
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    anonymous, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    as far as politicians are concerned, being ignorant is a prerequisite. it doesn't matter what the subject under discussion is, how much knowledge they have on a subject or whether the impact of that subject, if looked at constructively and impartially, will be good or bad. the name of the game is to win! to please their Lords and Masters (the ones lining the pockets!) the people dont, never have done and never will be considered. not until election time, that is!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    How?

    HOW?

    I have called the DC switch repeatedly. Ask for John Cornyn and get a recording that says they are busy and can't take the call. Ask for Sam Johnson and get an unpaid intern that gruffly says he'll let the rep know and hangs up. Ask for KBH and get dead air since she's not running for reeelection and no longer has any concern for her constituents.

    Send emails or letters? No response, or a "thanks for the feedback", or at BEST a form letter that may not even be specific to the inquiry.

    What's unacceptable is the total lack of accountability. Don't like the direction of our country? Well, feel free to run against John Cornyn in Texas.

    We don't GET options. We get what's given to us, and we damn well better like it.

    Minority viewpoints need representation too. If "Party X" gets 10% of the vote I think it should get 10% of the seats. Right now if "Party X" gets 10% of the vote they get 0% of the representation- that isn't right and it's hurting our country.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    This says it all:

     

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  11.  
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    Jay (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:33pm

    Frustrations

    Talking to people about piracy is also a problem. Good gracious is it frustrating when people actually think messing with DNS servers will prevent or slow down piracy.

    And thinking that Google is the devil because it has the top search engine.

    Or when we have to rely on people SO INEPT at their obs, that everyone knows how to route around the law in order to watch a movie online.

    I don't get it. What do we have to do in order to get a representative government?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

    The obvious solution is to have these committees composed of engineers, rather than politicians. Bring in a couple judges to preside over the debate and ensure that the issues they want to address are being addressed. Use people who SOLVE PROBLEMS for a living, to solve problems.

     

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  13.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Or

    We could always use the 'X Prize' model: set forth criteria and whomever from anywhere advances the best solution gets the prize money.

    Competitive think tanks (et al) would be awesome!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:46pm

    "Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works"

    There is nothing wrong with not knowing something, but not knowing something and not sufficiently consulting with experts during your hearing is not acceptable.

     

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    Kellic, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:49pm

    Its a moot point

    Until your average person demands that the idiots in congress be knowledgeable about such topics, and until said idiots in congress realize their reelection is at stake because of the lack of knowledge.
    Until then this is all a moot point when your average end user knows about as much about the internet as your congress critter. The tech savvy are the ones who care about this topic and sadly we don't have nearly a large enough voice....yet. Maybe in 20 years. Assuming the dumbing down of tech doesn't continue with Apple products and the like. Sorry but I'm seeing computer users getting dumber and dumber as companies like Apple isolate them from knowing even the very basics of how tech works.

     

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    MrWilson, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    Re:

    Hey, the technology that wires money into their campaign accounts works. What more do they need to know about technology?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Frustrations

    In order to get a representative government you need to either:

    1) Dumb yourself down to the point where the current government represents you, or;

    2) Try to elect intelligent politicians

    One is an oxymoron, the other will make you a moron.

    Tails they win, heads you lose.

     

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  18.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Nothing New

    and that law was lobbied for by...the railway industry - sounds familiar?

     

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  19.  
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    MrWilson, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    Re:

    I prefer direct knowledge. You can "consult" with experts that support whatever your agenda and bias are.

     

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  20.  
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    Drak, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    Normally I'm full on board here but this topic requires a bit of a split opinion from me.

    I agree that our representatives should take the time to understand what's going on or enlist assistance. A person can't know everything and then even your advisers might be biased...tough one there.

    The part is that acting dumb about technology does in fact endear them to the general public. I'm not sure how often you've heard the phrases "I'm computer illiterate," or "I'm not very good with computers." I personally hear it quite often and they're said with a sense of glee.

    I suppose I'm pushing forward the point that maybe we do, in fact, have an accurate representation in congress...and that makes a sad point about our attitude towards such things as a country.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    *SOPA is passed*

    CEO: The evil pirates have been destroyed! Now the starving artists that we have a monopo- I mean, that we are caring for, will be starving less! *continues eating at 3-star restaurant*
    Musician: *still poor*

    *Weeks later*

    CEO: Why hasn't my money increased by at least 150%?!
    Tech Advisor: Maybe if you didn't support-
    CEO: I'VE GOT IT! The pirates! They probably have their own illegal tubes!
    Tech Advisor: Wha-
    CEO: CURSE YOU, PIRATES!!!

     

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  22.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    Experts are not a substitute for your own knowledge. If you have no knowledge of your own you can't understand what the experts are saying and get influenced by the wrong things. Thnis has been known for many years and was reported by CP Snow in "Two Cultures". This problem caused Churchill to make some bad decisions that cost many lives during the war.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Frustrations

    What do we have to do in order to get a representative government?


    You really want an honest answer? You probably won't like it.

    First, the FCC needs to order every TV and radio station in the country to make the public airwaves available to political candidates, at nominal cost. That isn't enough, though, because of cable: So the FCC also needs to make the cable franchises' use of public right-of-way contingent on their making broadcast facilities available to political candidates at nominal cost.

    That measure would reduce the terrible price of a political campaign, and thus reduce the terrible dependence on wealthy doners and large sums of money.

    In addition, if the advertising slots for candidates came in, say, three minute blocks, that would work against the 15 and 30 second soundbite culture.

    It might not be enough. But necessities like public education are longer term.

     

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  24.  
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    PRMan, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 2:58pm

    Re: How?

    And this is why we have always had and will always have 2 parties.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    Dear Techdirt,

    Some here in congress don't even know how radio works, and you want them to know how them tubes work? Cha right!

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Willful ignorance

    *Congressman hires expert*

    Techie: Sir, if I must, SOPA is-
    Congressman: You trust SOPA? Great here are your things okay bye
    Techie: What-
    Congressman: I said BYE

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re: Or

    whomever .. advances the best solution ....

    As judged by ...(e.g. Lamar Smith? MPAA? Scored on how much it increases campaign contributions?)?

     

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  28.  
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    MattP, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: Things that make you go hmmm...

    Not if SOPA passes.

    (Wish I could add a /s to the end of that.)

     

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  29.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re:

    I am very much against SOPA and everything it stands for. However, I don't believe it has the potential to 'break' the internet. The internet isn't a thing, per se. It's a series of agreed upon protocols that allow us to communicate with one another.

    What SOPA wants to do is to give big media control over the United States' root DNS servers, this is alarming but not quite the same level of intrusiveness and control that China and Iran exercise. I run my own DNS server and update from root servers outside of the United States. It isn't difficult and if censorship like SOPA becomes more prevalent, the creators of the software will make it even more simple to install and run.

    SOPA will do two extremely damaging things. First, it will drive business away from the United States. I spent several hours last night migrating a company's servers from a datacenter in Los Angeles to one in Spain. The entire company is U.S. based and they do not engage in anything resembling piracy, but they do have sections for user uploaded data and the risk for crippling litigation was deemed too great compared to the cost of moving the data overseas.

    The second effect involves criminalizing behavior that the average person does not see as ethically wrong. Sharing will continue unabated and when the SOPA supporters realize that the bill has done nothing but create a new class of white collar felon, they'll want the next bill which will be far worse. If deep-packet inspection becomes required and/or encryption becomes a felony we'll be playing in the same league as China et al.

    TL/DR: SOPA will fail, people like me will make sure of this. I'm more concerned about the precedent this will set for future incarnations and the criminalization of the masses to satisfy the profit margins of the few.

     

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  30.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 4:04pm

    Re:

    This is exactly the same attitude that some had towards programming a VCR, and they thought it was amusing when their 9yo could do it.

    The same people and business that used to call me out to fix thier phone or router after they'd dropped it into the toaster oven and not noticed the funny smell.

    (You'd be amazed how often I heard variations of that!)

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Dear People, It's No Longer OK To Elect Congressmen That Don't Know How The Internet Works

     

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  32.  
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    Connor Walker, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    There's plenty of precedent for this

    For example, I remember a similar complacent ignorance when they passed the 'assault weapons ban', which had a ridiculous hodge-podge of restrictions on cosmetic and safety modifications, very few of which actually changed the functionality of the rifle. Congress didn't know what kind of firearms they were legislating, they just knew that they didn't like the scary-looking ones.
    The net effect, of course, was to dump a ton of paperwork on everyone in the industry, ruin basic safety protocols and turn a lot of honest people into criminals at the stroke of a pen.

     

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  33.  
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    dwg, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Re:

    I like the spirit of your post, and I wish what you say were true. You just misunderstand the reach of the word "break." Something doesn't have to be tangible to be broken--think of a broken line of communication between, say, two feuding family members. And something doesn't have to stop functioning in and of itself to stop functioning as it was meant to and should--so, yes, the Internet will still be around and its intrinsic technology will still exist, but there will be new barriers to proper usage.

    Think of a bear-trap in front of your lightswitch as a crude analogy. And never misunderestimate the ability of the US government to make a bigger beartrap for its own citizen bears.

     

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  34.  
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    Mimi, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 4:50pm

    STOP S.O.P.A

     

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  35.  
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    Rekrul, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 4:57pm

    This is a key point. Unfortunately, I've see way too many people supporting SOPA (especially among the lobbyist crew) act as if this is just some sort of game, where the goal is to "win." That's how DC politics works, but it doesn't take into account the very real impact of the damage that they're doing.

    As long as they continue to get paid by the corporations and continue to get offered jobs with them when they leave politics, they simply do not care!

    It's really no different from large companies that pollute the environment. As long as they get rich, they don't give a crap what happens to the rest of the planet.

    If you're regulating the internet, it should at least be a pre-requisite that you are willing to understand the technology, or that you abstain from taking part in voting on (or writing) bills if you don't understand it. It's not funny. It's not cute. It's terrifying and it impacts us all.

    Except that to them, none of us matter. Unless it's election time...

     

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  36.  
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    John Thacker, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    "Series of tubes" was actually a fine metaphor...

    Sen. Stevens may have sounded silly, but his analogy to pneumatic tubes was an entirely reasonable one, even if you disagree with the policy position he was trying to take. Yeah, he sounded old and silly, but it wasn't nearly as bad as people pretended.

    That comment was nowhere near as ignorant as the pro-SOPA Judiciary members like Mel Watt were saying this week.

    I hope everyone was also against Congress voting on changing healthcare as well, since most of them don't know healthcare either.

    SOPA is a huge threat, unlike the phantom threats to net neutrality that people pretended necessitated giving the censorious FCC a whole bunch of new powers. Net neutrality violations had been near non-existent (the same 4 always mentioned) and all temporary, because the Internet's structure makes it hard to do. Government censorship, OTOH, is very real here and in many places, and a real threat.

     

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  37.  
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    John Thacker, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 5:05pm

    If you're regulating the internet, it should at least be a pre-requisite that you are willing to understand the technology, or that you abstain from taking part in voting on (or writing) bills if you don't understand it. It's not funny. It's not cute. It's terrifying and it impacts us all.


    Absolutely. Of course, the same thing applies to PPACA/Obamacare, the PATRIOT Act, TARP, and a whole bunch of other bills people told us we had to shut up and pass, that they "had to pass the bill to find out what was in it."

     

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  38.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 6:21pm

    Re: This says it all:

    After viewing that video, my mind just froze asking "what?"

    That's just... WHAT?! As if that's something to be proud of. "Oh I don't have to know anything about anything in order to decide on its future." When are we (globally) going to hold our legislature accountable for the stuff they rule on?

     

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  39.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Frustrations

    Talking to people about piracy is also a problem. Good gracious is it frustrating when people actually think messing with DNS servers will prevent or slow down piracy.

    That's because they aren't really worried about piracy...because they need that scapegoat to gain more control. Do you really think they want to get rid of piracy all together, when it creates such a great narrative for them to use on Congress? "Them thar forrin theives R steeling ar contents!"

    No these bills are about control. Control on what you, the hapless moneybag, get to watch online. They want to turn the Internet into the next cable television. With only approved channels. Sure, for now, they won't attack US-based websites, but that's just a matter of time.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    "I don't know about the technical stuff, but I don't believe the experts."
    ~Mel Watt (D - NC)


    Americans: next election, please don't vote for someone who thinks like this.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Things that make you go hmmm...

    We don't need to use money to effect change.
    The Tea Party got a lot of their candidates elected didn't they?

    What they didn't had was written legislation they didn't had a plan, the plan was just to shuffle people around congress and that was it, instead people need to take the debate outside of congress and to the streets, where everyone can suggest a law, review laws and suggests changes, after people have that they can put someone in there to put those things in place.

    Want to change the political system?
    Don't do it like others are doing it, do it differently and they will listen.

     

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  42.  
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    Lowlightt, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

    Re: "Series of tubes" was actually a fine metaphor...

    Actually the FCC won't have said powers it will actually fall under the attorney general powers and his alone. IE 1 man who we don't even vote for will have unilateral control over the internet.

     

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  43.  
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    btrussell (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 8:52pm

    "So the real question is what is the way forward on this kind of thing? One would be to elect more technically savvy folks to Congress, but that's always difficult (and lots of tech savvy folks would rather be working in tech). Another would be to better educate those who are in Congress. Some of us are already working on that front with things like Engine Advocacy, but having more help and more voices would be a good thing."

    Good luck!

    "Blessed are those that can give without remembering, and take without forgetting.

    One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, 'I cannot accept money from you, I'm doing community service this week.'

    The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a 'thank you' card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

    Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill , the barber again replied, 'I cannot accept money from you, I'm doing community service this week.'

    The cop was happy and left the shop. The next morning when the barber went to open up, there was a 'Thank You' card and a dozen donuts waiting for him at his door.

    Then a Politician came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill , the barber again replied, 'I can not accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.'

    The Politician was very happy and left the shop. The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen Politicians lined up waiting for a free haircut.

    And that, my friends, illustrates the fundamental difference between the citizens of our country and the politicians who run it."
    http://www.santabanta.com/jokes.asp?catid=10807

     

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  44.  
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    Greevar (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re: This says it all:

    Did you not see his face go cold when he realized what he just said?

     

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    btrussell (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 10:05pm

    Re: Re: This says it all:

    It must have froze. :)
    Mine just jumped to "obviously."

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 17th, 2011 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    They did consult with "experts"... provided by those who want the law to pass. These are the same level of experts who advise them on stopping terror attacks by adding more items to the not allowed on planes list, that the Titanic is unsinkable, that there is only ever 1 possible reaction to a situation.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    principled developer, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 6:37am

    The problem is a fundamental one... The federal government simply shouldn't be involved in the last "true" free market we have.

    Government's natural progression is tyranny not freedom.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re:

    SOPA will do two extremely damaging things. First, it will drive business away from the United States. I spent several hours last night migrating a company's servers from a datacenter in Los Angeles to one in Spain. The entire company is U.S. based and they do not engage in anything resembling piracy, but they do have sections for user uploaded data and the risk for crippling litigation was deemed too great compared to the cost of moving the data overseas.

    Wait, out of fear of SOPA; your client moved his servers out of the jurisdiction of SOPA (the US) into the jurisdiction of SOPA? What am I missing here?

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Penguin Pete, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Does everybody finally understand how important tech education is?

    Are people finally going to wake up to what I've been relentlessly preaching for five+ years about how much of a crisis tech ignorance is? Is everybody finally going to quit burning me in effigy for being an elitist technocrat for saying that everyone should learn how technology works? Is everyone finally understanding that we're in a science "dark age" and we have to fight hard to keep from turning into a society of ignorant third-world peasants? Can I once again tell people to "RTFM" and not get mobs with pitchforks and torches after me?

    IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII doubt it. This too shall pass.

    But SOPA won't. I'll explain why it didn't after it dies.

     

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  50.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Dec 17th, 2011 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "What am I missing here?"
    Thinking that SOPA applies to other Countries.
    The US is the jurisdiction of SOPA.
    Or do you think you are shutting down websites in Russia?
    You aren't. You are being blocked from accessing said Russian site. Myself, and the rest of the world, will still be able to access said site. Legally.

    Thinking that SOPA won't be expanded to shut down free speech, such as this site or the comment section of the site.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Loki, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Re: This says it all:

    I did. I about died laughing.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Mike, the reality is that the members of the congress are not experts in every field, they don't each hold degrees in every field of science, technology, and human thought. They are not all mensa members and life long university students. They are humans.

    These humans surround themselves with good people, with people who know more than they do in particular areas. They talk to experts, they deal with people "knowledgeable in the field", and so on. They weigh out all the information they get, they discuss it with others in their party and position, and then decide how they are going to look at certain laws.

    They do not have to be experts in cars to pass laws about pollution, safety, or other requirements to have a car on the road. They don't have to be able to disassemble and reassemble a car to be able to pass laws on it.

    No matter how knowledgeable they are about the internet, the fact is that SOPA (and other laws) are not just about the internet. Technical issues, details, or perhaps your own desire for a totally free and open internet have to balance against all the other needs of the country, of the economy, and of the people.

    So, I am sorry if you cannot accept the basics of the way the world works, and that congress isn't a collection of elected internet engineers.

     

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  53.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Dec 17th, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Re:

    You are such a liar!

    The reason the government can't legislate proper technology policy is two-fold:

    1. They are willfully ignorant of technology to engender themselves with the ignorant voting public.

    2. Their income depends on them not understanding it.

    It's not that they need to "balance against the other needs of the country", that's just a cop-out platitude. You're trying to venerate them as the infallible conservators of balance. You'd have to be nuts to believe it's a compromise issue. Violating civil liberties is never a fair compromise and yes, this is a violation of civil liberties.

    If they are "balancing" the issues for the whole of the country, why are these laws so slanted in benefit of the industry and does nothing to protect the rights of the people? There should be provisions that protect individuals from abuses from the industry, but they don't listen to us. Copyright was written to provide disincentive for commercial infringement. It was never intended, nor was it envisioned, that it would be used to censor individuals. But, the government never hears the concerns from advocates of the people they swore an oath to.

    I swear, we need representatives to represent us to the representatives in our government! Can you say "infinite recursion"?

     

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  54.  
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    Rebecca, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    History repeating itself?

    Haha you think USA would look at New Zealand's recent debacle over our own file sharing law and try to educate themselves. But obviously not. It was amazing how ignorant most of the MP were about the internet and the definition of file-sharing (except for green MP Gareth Hughes, who was the only person who argued against the bill) One gem of this debate (taken under the guise of emergency earthquake legislation) was a MP starting his speech off with "The internet is very much like that thing called Sky-net from the movie The Terminator"

    Screw the occupy movement, all tech people in the USA should stand outside congress with power-point slides while yelling "2,4,6,8 Let me help you educate!"

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Blowhard, Dec 17th, 2011 @ 9:18pm

    Nothing new

    Does Congress ever have a clue about what they're voting on? Financial reform? Derivatives, mortgage backed securities? Sorry, my wife watches the checkbook, hardy har.
    Fortunately, they have high-paid lobbyists to instruct them how they should vote.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    witerat, Dec 18th, 2011 @ 2:17am

    tech for politicians

    "Its like talking to a chimp"(Sheldon - Big Bang Theory) So maybe we adopt a meritocracy. But USA is headed for totalitarian theocracy.

     

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  57.  
    icon
    sscheider (profile), Dec 18th, 2011 @ 11:26am

    Re: Willful ignorance

    Unfortunately, I envision a representative telling a staff member to bring them a piece of internet for them to study. Perhaps a certification would do - or required CEUs, though any educational solution implies that the representative desires to learn; as described in this article, many representatives have little desire to learn.

    WWMD (What would Madison do?)

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re:

    "1. They are willfully ignorant of technology to engender themselves with the ignorant voting public.

    2. Their income depends on them not understanding it."

    [citation needed]

    Seriously, I think you guys need help.

    "If they are "balancing" the issues for the whole of the country, why are these laws so slanted in benefit of the industry and does nothing to protect the rights of the people?"

    This is an area where you (and many others) make a mistake. You look at a law and say "It's pro business, so it's against us", yet the reality is that without the business, you wouldn't have the very products you seek. The balance is beyond your "gimmie gimmie gimmie" need of the moment, it covers the short and long term of things.

    Short term, you might find it harder to pirate material. Long term, you will continue to have a flow of the very material that you have been pirating.

    Politicians have long since figured out that the public is often more like a 2 year old child than an adult, having tantrums about what they cannot have at a given moment. They have to look at things like OWS and realize that it isn't a widespread thing, just a certain narrow group bitching against something they mostly appear not to fully understand.

    So the balance is against the "country as a whole", present and future, and not against your personal needs right this second.

    Don't you think 10 years of unchecked piracy is enough?

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Things that make you go hmmm...

    I respect your position on taking it to the streets.

    However, the Tea Party candidates did, indeed, have a lot of money behind them - nearly every conservative PAC was bankrolling them.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Bob 5k, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 6:05am

    Re: How?

    Believe it or not, I actually DO get responses when I email my reps. Takes a while sometimes, especially on issues generating large volumes of incoming email. But eventually I get an actual response on just about every topic I send an email about.

    Mind you, they aren't writing to me personally. Just generally responding to the barrage of messages on a given topic. But so far they've all done a pretty good job of addressing the issue and explaining why they voted (or are planning on voting) they way they did.

    I don't always agree and sometimes feel various congress critters have no real grasp of what they are voting on (SOPA!), but I do give them some credit for taking the time to bang out an explanatory email so we here at home know what they are up to.

    Though I have to admit, I've never tried actually *calling* one of them. Might have to give that a shot sometime to see what happens.

    --bob 5k

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 6:08am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You really are out of your mind, aren't you?

    There is more "content" than ever before. There is more revenue than ever before.

    And this is the case "after 10 years of unchecked piracy".

    You and your cohorts have lost control of the revenue...and that is your problem. That is not the problem of the U.S. govt or judicial system. This is a business problem that can only be solved by businesses themselves being innovative enough to survive and thrive.

     

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  62.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Dec 19th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You don't seem to get it. This is our government. It's not the MPAA's, the RIAA's, nor any other industry group's government. The laws they create are supposed to serve the public good above all else, but they only serve the media industry.

    Copyright was a power granted to congress to create laws to encourage the creation of more art for the benefit of everyone. It is not, and never was, a law to protect the income of people who produce art. If they have a problem making money (which they don't, they've been making record-breaking profits for years now), then they need to address it in their business plan, not by demanding greater censorship of legal speech to block the infringing speech.

    Unchecked piracy, as you call it, is not a problem for the government to solve. This war on infringement is war on the very founding principle for which the power to legislate copyright was granted to congress in the first place. The fact that your ilk consider infringement a problem worth addressing at all is telling of how entitled you and your type have become. You are not entitled to profit from your art through copyright. It merely provides the opportunity to profit. Even if you don't make one red cent, copyright has still served its purpose and is satisfied, because it granted you a temporary right to restrict whom may receive a copy of your works. That is all it is supposed to do. It is not a "I made this, now pay me" law. The industry should be grateful that they do make a profit, because they aren't entitled to it.

    Funny that you should mention tantrums, you and your type seem to have them quite often over things you haven't the slightest understanding of such. The only thing the government has to consider when making laws, is how this will impact the people at large and whether it has a net benefit to them compared to that impact. If the law doesn't benefit the people as a whole, but just a small vocal segment of businesses that don't need it, then it's a bad policy to implement. It's by the people, for the people, and of the people. It's not by the industry, for the industry, and of the industry.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 11:44am

    Re:

    Oh, I'm sorry, you've mistaken our "get people-who-understand-the-world in Congress" to be "get people-in-congress to understand the world." An easy mistake.

    If you don't understand the Internet, do not vote on Internet-regulating bills. If you do not understand a radio, please move to Florida and quietly live out the rest of your life.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Wes, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "never misunderestimate the ability of the US government to make a bigger beartrap for its own citizen bears."

    Or other nations' bears.
    Viz., Bill C11 the new Canadian made-in-Hollywood copyright bill, delivered to Ottawa courtesy of Washington D.C. See http://www.michaelgeist.ca/ for insightful commentary.

    A quibble:
    You probably mean "never underestimate" or the less preferable "always misunderestimate"

     

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