Senator Coons Admits That SOPA 'Really Did Pose Some Risk To The Internet'

from the a-little-late-for-that dept

See update at the bottom.

A few folks have been sending over a recent article from Hillicon Valley, in which Senator Chris Coons, a co-sponsor of PIPA admits that SOPA "really did pose some risk to the internet."
Coons said it was "truly memorable" when one of his sons shook him awake and asked "why I wanted to break the Internet and why Justin Bieber thought I should go to jail."

The pop star had suggested that supporters of the Protect IP Act should be arrested after a campaign against the bill had claimed it could result in Bieber going to jail for singing songs that belonged to other artists.

"That was my first warning that we were not communicating effectively," Coons said. He added that he believes some elements of SOPA "overreached" and "really did pose some risk to the Internet."
Of course, I think that some folks are a little confused by this. The issue with Bieber wasn't actually about PIPA at all. Instead, Coons had directly sponsored (along with Senator Amy Klobuchar) a different bill, S.978, which would have made a felony out of certain forms of online streaming. This was at the center of the FreeBieber campaign, which was actually separate from PIPA (which was S.968). While the House version of SOPA pulled in similar language, PIPA was always separate from S.978. Coons, though, was a co-sponsor of PIPA as well. It's a little unclear from the context if Coons was really talking about S.968 or S.978 in what was quoted above.

Either way, it seems worth pointing out that, if it takes your kid to clue you in to the fact that you were pushing for legislation that "really did pose some risk to the internet," perhaps you shouldn't be putting forth that legislation in the first place. It certainly makes it clear that he didn't understand what he was supporting.

One hopes that Coons (and, really, all our elected officials) will use this as an opportunity to realize that jumping into regulating the internet without realizing what the hell they're doing is a mistake that should not be repeated. In the meantime, it looks like Coons may be trying to make amends to the tech community, and is now co-sponsoring the new Startup Act, which would provide a significant boost to entrepreneurs and startups by easing immigration laws for both entrepreneurs and highly skilled engineering students, allowing them to stay in the US where they can build companies that create jobs, rather than going back to their home countries to compete against Americans.

Update: Posted a slight clarification, as some insist that he was only speaking about SOPA -- the House bill, rather than PIPA, the Senate bill he co-sponsored. While the two bills were distinct, there were significant similarities -- especially on the key points that would have "posed some risk to the internet." If Senator Coons is making a material distinction between the two bills, that suggests he still doesn't understand the two bills he supported in the Senate and how they, too, had significant problems.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    weneedhelp (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 10:54am

    Clueless

    It's a little unclear from the context if Coons was really talking about S.968 or S.978 in what was quoted above.


    Thats OK he didnt know either.

     

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    Glen, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:07am

    "One hopes that Coons (and, really, all our elected officials) will use this as an opportunity to realize that jumping into regulating the internet without realizing what the hell they're doing is a mistake that should not be repeated."

    I'm afraid not. Our elected officials will stay loyal to the money that got them their seat.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:12am

    the one thing i think this shows is that he, along with the majority of other Senators, dont have a clue what they are talking about, what they are voting on, the damage they can do, the bias they are showing against human rights and freedoms and the contempt shown towards the Constitution.

     

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    Yakko Warner (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    Where were the industry experts?

    Reminds me of that bit from the John Stewart show, where he had clips showing various congressmen admitting they didn't know details as they said, "I'm not a nerd". Stewart's epic comment: "I believe the word you're looking for is experts." Perhaps if they had invited some of these experts to the debate, they might've had a clue much earlier.

    Except, of course, these same experts were specifically excluded from every part of the debate.

    It's not so much that they didn't know about the consequences, it's that they willfully excluded anyone who could've told them about the consequences.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:22am

    "In the meantime, it looks like Coons may be trying to make amends to the tech community, and is now co-sponsoring the new Startup Act, which would provide a significant boost to entrepreneurs and startups by easing immigration laws for both entrepreneurs and highly skilled engineering students, allowing them to stay in the US where they can build companies that create jobs, rather than going back to their home countries to compete against Americans."

    not to nitpic, but they will very much be competing against Americans. But that is the point of the bill. THey will be competing with American, Eurpean, Asian, worldwide companies... as companies / employees based in the US.

    the competition is desired, it is the location they are trying to change.

     

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      Zos (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      if they stay and become citizens, then they're Americans. Suck it up, i doubt you're a pure american indian.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2012 @ 4:47am

        Re: Re:

        wow, way to completely misunderstand what i was saying.

        I want them to stay, if that is what they want. i was saying the intention of the bill is to make it easier for them to be here and work, which is a good thing.

        but this is capitalism, so even if they stay and become americans they will still be competing against americans. but it is that competition that they are promoting.

        it was just a nitpic on the wording in the article. not the grand political statement you seem to think it was.

        sheesh.

         

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      Zos (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      if they stay and become citizens, then they're Americans. Suck it up, i doubt you're a pure american indian.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    I think it's remarkable that he can be in a position to represent the public and yet it still requires his own son shaking him awake to get him to acknowledge a question from the public he represents...

    Maybe we need to start defining "public" on the job advertisement?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Their "for the children" arguments have no credibility, especially when they don't even know what's best for their children.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:27am

    which one is coons the old white man or the old white man?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    You at least have to give one thing to the guy: he raised a cool kid.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    Sounds like at least coons son believed the bullshit that you claimed no one was taking literally.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 10:25pm

      Re:

      ...Justing Bieber himself made the comment about the sponsors of S.978 going to jail. Techdirt did not make any such comment, and I doubt Coons's kid is reading this site. Is it crazy to think maybe he heard it from Bieber directly, since that was spouted all over the news?

      Seriously, you need to stop with the "Techdirt is the pirate anti-christ" position already. This is one blog among many. Spitting into the wind here does nothing to stop more and more people from realizing that current copyright, trademark, and patent laws in various countries are crazy. Most of us figured that out on our own and are just here for the news.

      (Also, no one is responsible for the mass confusion that is the human brain under the age of 15. Confused and misinformed is the default state of kids that age, which the existence of the internet has only somewhat improved.)

       

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    News Alert, May 29th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Groan!

    When will you people wake the f*** up? The US was tuned into a Fascist Police State over the last few decades and is run by and for the tiny Wealthy Anonymous Fascist minority (and their Corporations). Stop fucking lying to yourselves about bullshit like your bloody Constitution and bloody Freedom (you don't even know what the fuck that is!) and other bullshit buzzwords that currently mean absolutely nothing but keep you stupid and pacified.

    You can't even admit to you bloody selves that the country you want is long gone and what you're left with is bullshit.

    Admitting the problem is the first step!

     

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 12:39pm

      Re: Groan!

      The neat thing about reality is: it's never that simple. America is neither completely free and earnestly principled nor hopelessly oppressed and devoid of values.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    oh yes, and of course there was no hyperbole used at all when it came time for the internet industry to lobby against these bills...

    /sarc

     

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

      Re:

      Who said there wasn't? There was a lot of hyperbole. However, the hyperbole used by the anti-SOPA/PIPA crowd used was in an effort to draw people's attention to the troublesome and problematic portions of the bill. Meaning, the hyperbole was used to point out fact.

      On the pro-SOPA/PIPA side, they used quite a bit of hyperbole, but were stating it as fact. Big difference.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    The internet is just a fad. Who cares if pages about cats go away, so long as we keep all the jobs in the music and film industries that are threatened by the internet's existence.

    /sarc

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 2:11pm

    And once again

    In the meantime, it looks like Coons may be trying to make amends to the tech community


    And once again, we see a politician confusing the tech industry with the tech community. And even within the tech industry, easing immigration laws for engineers is not a slam-dunk PR win. It's a very controversial topic.

     

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    Keroberos (profile), May 29th, 2012 @ 3:25pm

    "That was my first warning that we were not communicating effectively,"
    This was our first warning that you either don't have a clue about what you were doing, or are a complete sellout. You think the problem is lack of effective communication. No, we knew exactly what these bills were trying to accomplish, and called you out for it.

     

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    DannyB (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 6:27am

    Which parts of SOPA did NOT overreach?

    Could someone please point out any parts of SOPA that did not overreach?

     

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    kitsune361, May 30th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Things everyone can learn from an Evil Overlord:

    This is exactly the reason for #12 on the Evil Overlord list:

    12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

    Srsly, maybe it's the rarefied air up there in DC, but there are times when I wonder where our congress-critters put their think-pans.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), May 30th, 2012 @ 8:09pm

    To Senator Coons: No shit, Sherlock.

    Perhaps you and your collegues should check with your Internet literate children next time you decide to break the Internet to ensure that Jollywood's latest nightmares about piracy don't corner you into doing something stupid.

    I'm sure your children would be more than happy to give you a course on the use of the Internet and Web one weekend. ;-)

    Or, as yours did, in the middle of the night!

     

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