US Chamber Of Commerce: Communicating With Woman Whose Sad Story We Manipulated Is Harassment
from the um-no dept
You may recall that last week we had a post about a new propaganda campaign from the lobbying giant, the US Chamber of Commerce (who thrives off the fact that people falsely assume they’re the US Department of Commerce, rather than a private lobbying group). The video, in support of the terrible and dangerous PROTECT IP Act continues the favorite talking points of the dishonest supporters of that bill, which is to conflate the problem of fake (and potentially dangerous) drugs with copyright infringement. The two things are totally and completely different, but by tugging on your heart strings about someone who died from ingesting fake drugs, the US Chamber of Commerce (and other lobbyists and politicians) hopes to ram through the PROTECT IP Act, despite its myriad problems. In this case, the campaign involved a heart-string-pulling video from a woman talking about a friend of hers who had died after taking some counterfeit drugs that had lead in them.
Of course, the folks in the Techdirt community quickly pointed out numerous other problems with the propaganda campaign, including the fact that the “example” in the video took place in Canada, meaning that a US law wouldn’t have meant anything at all. Separately, and more importantly, it was pointed out that the Operation in Our Sites effort by ICE, which was the basis for PROTECT IP, has yet to target a single online drug site. They just use the scare factor of fake drugs to go after websites based on questionable reasons and evidence.
One of our regular commenters, Prometheefeu, suggested that the woman in the video might not know that she was being manipulated this way by the US Chamber of Commerce and suggested that the community here team up to draft a letter to explain why her friend’s tragic story is being exploited by the US Chamber of Commerce to support a law that’s really focused on an entirely different issue. Prometheefeu mentioned that he had found the woman’s address and phone number, but he did not give that information out. He just suggested that we write her a letter. He even explicitly told people not to harass (or, as he said, “prank/lulz”) the woman, noting (correctly) that this would make you a “counterproductive idiot.”
All of this is perfectly reasonable. Unless, of course, you’re the US Chamber of Commerce.
They called us and left a voicemail specifically calling out that comment, and saying that our commenter was calling for people to “harass” the woman in their video and asking us to delete the comment. Now, it seems that we’re all in agreement that harassing this woman would be idiotic. But, apparently the US Chamber of Commerce feels that writing a reasoned letter to someone to explain why the Chamber of Commerce is manipulating your story counts as “harassment.”
Now that strikes me as something of a double standard. After all, the Chamber of Commerce itself runs campaigns asking people to send “20,000 letters in 20 days” in order to flood Congress in support of certain bills. But, someone wants to draft a single letter to someone who appears in a ridiculously misleading US Chamber of Commerce video… and it’s harassment?