As we noted yesterday, staffers in both the House and the Senate quietly started floating
the idea that they would drop the DNS provisions in the bill... in the hopes that maybe it would calm down the growing unrest about SOPA/PIPA. Senator Leahy today made the first official statement on the matter, and it's ridiculous. Rather than drop the DNS blocking, or even hold off on voting on the bill -- both of which would be sensible steps in a much bigger process, he wants to rush the bill through... but ignore the DNS provisions
until there's a chance to "study" the impact of them:
As I prepare a managers' amendment to be considered during the floor debate, I will therefore propose that the positive and negative effects of this provision be studied before implemented, so that we can focus on the other important provisions in this bill, which are essential to protecting American intellectual property online, and the American jobs that are tied to intellectual property. I regret that law enforcement will not have this remedy available to it when websites operating overseas are stealing American property, threatening the safety and security of American consumers. However, the bill remains a strong and balanced approach to protecting intellectual property through a no-fault, no-liability system that leverages the most relevant players in the Internet ecosystem.
In other words, pass the bill now... then wait until all the furor dies down... and then we turn on the DNS blocking provisions when no one's paying attention. This is just nasty politics. It's an attempt to ram through everything while pretending
to listen to constituent concerns. This lets Leahy and PIPA/SOPA supporters pretend
that DNS blocking is no longer an issue in the bill... get the bill approved... and then figure out some way to turn them on later. Ridiculous.
It's incredibly important to let Leahy -- and every other Senator -- know that this is totally
unacceptable. If there are big concerns on the bill, and he's suddenly going to release a manager's amendment that no one's seen yet, shouldn't we stop
moving forward with the bill, give everyone a chance to digest what it's saying, explore the issues and concerns and then
determine if the bill has any merit? Instead, he's still trying to move forward with a bill that has all sorts of problems: it still involves censorship for "information location tools" (just not DNS blocking). It still has a very broad definition for a rogue site. It still has the private right of action that will lead to a ton of lawsuits. There are tons of problems... and punting DNS blocking down the road to shove the rest through is just obnoxious.
Still, this shows that the public outcry has been working. Leahy more or less admits this in his statement:
The process in drafting the legislation has always been an open one in which we have heard from all third parties, and have worked to address as many outstanding concerns as possible. It is through this process that we have gained the support of the majority of third parties who will be asked to take action under the legislation, as well as a bipartisan group of 40 cosponsors in the Senate.
It is also through this process that I and the bill’s cosponsors have continued to hear concerns about the Domain Name provision from engineers, human rights groups, and others. I have also heard from a number of Vermonters on this important issue. I remain confident that the ISPs – including the cable industry, which is the largest association of ISPs – would not support the legislation if its enactment created the problems that opponents of this provision suggest. Nonetheless, this is in fact a highly technical issue, and I am prepared to recommend we give it more study before implementing it.
That first paragraph is ridiculous. PIPA drafting has not been open at all. Traditionally such bills are widely shared with others, including those who oppose. PIPA was not. Traditionally, hearings are held for controversial bills. No hearings were held on PIPA. The tech community has repeatedly reached out and offered to be a part of the discussions... and it was ignored.
That said, the fact that he's "heard from a number of Vermonters on this important issue" shows that the grassroots effort -- with many people calling, emailing and visiting the Senator, are having an impact
. But it needs to continue -- and even amplify. Senator Leahy needs to know that this is not a reasonable solution. He needs to know that if there are concerns with the bill, we should wait band not rush it. He needs to know that if he's making last minute changes, he should be sharing those
with the outside world -- who he claims is a part of the process... and let them comment on the bill.
Hell, he could just look at the Wyden/Issa alternative bill, OPEN. Whatever you think of the OPEN Act, the backers of that bill need to be commended. They put the bill up on the web
and made it editable by all, so that anyone and everyone could be a part of the feedback process. That process has been ongoing, and out of that process, a final bill will be drafted. Why wouldn't Senator Leahy do something like that? Why wouldn't he slow down, let everyone explore the bill? If he's really serious
about wanting to hear from everyone on the bill... why rush it through without hearing from anyone (except, we imagine... some lobbyists).