New Congress On Tech Issues: More Of The Same
from the just-what-we-needed dept
We’ve talked in the past about how most of the technology policy issues we discuss around here are non-partisan issues, which basically means both Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to screw them up completely. Right after the election we discussed what the Democrats coming to power might mean for copyright reform, and it completely depended on who got to chair the IP subcommittee, Rep. Howard Berman or Rep. Rick Boucher. If Berman took the job (and it was his choice), then it would be more of the same. Berman, who at times has been called the Representative from Disney or “Hollywood Howard,” represents a part of Los Angeles, and the entertainment industry is a huge backer of his political efforts. So, it comes as no surprise that he has a long history of “representing” his constituents, from pushing laws that would let Hollywood hack into your computer to giving the entertainment industry permission to pretend they’re the FBI to making file sharing a criminal offense with jail as punishment, rather than a civil one with fines as punishment. So, now that it appears that Berman will take the job, Larry Lessig has pointed out how ridiculous it is that the Democrats are letting him run such a committee, noting that it’s the same thing as putting a representative from Detroit in charge of automobile safety. As he says, it’s a signal that we’re getting “more of the same,” by which he highlights that again, this isn’t about partisans, but about politics — and how little it seems that common sense can get into the political process. So, for all the talk about how the 2006 meant changes, for tech policy issues it’s all the same story — with both Democrats and Republicans focusing on equally bad ideas.