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