White House Petition Against E-PARASITE/SOPA

from the speak-up dept

Last week, as part of our trip of startup entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and venture captialists, we were able to meet with senior White House staff about our concerns over the E-PARASITE/SOPA bill that would fundamentally change the regulatory and policy framework of the internet, seriously hindering the ability to create new startups, new jobs and new platforms to help everyone. The White House has not officially taken a position on the bill, but one thing was made clear from the very start of the meeting: the legacy players in Hollywood and at the US Chamber of Commerce were putting a ton of pressure on the White House to support E-PARASITE, despite the fact that the State Department itself is quite worried about the bill, as it would almost entirely undermine all of its efforts to promote internet freedom around the globe.

I’m usually not one to believe in the power of various “online petitions,” but since the White House has set up its own petition system, in which 25,000 signatures will guarantee a response, this actually seems like a case where just such a petition would work well. So it’s great to see that someone has created just such a petition against E-PARASITE. Of course, technically it should be against SOPA, since the framers of the bill recognized just how silly E-PARASITE sounds, and removed that from the bill after everyone started making fun of them. Still, it’s important to push this point home and let the White House know, in no uncertain terms, that the public is against this bill.

And it should be clear, by the way, that it’s not just the public. Many people within the federal government are equally worried about this bill, which appears to serve no other purpose than to keep a few legacy players in Hollywood fat and happy, and keep them from having to actually innovate for a short while longer.

The real question, however, is whether or not the Obama White House wants to directly contradict Hillary Clinton and the State Department. Remember, Clinton has become a staunch defender of internet freedom against attempts to censor the internet worldwide. In her speech earlier this year, she noted:

So this is a critical moment. The choices we make today will determine what the Internet looks like in the future…. For the United States, the choice is clear. On the spectrum of Internet freedom, we place ourselves on the side of openness. We recognize that an open Internet comes with challenges. It calls for ground-rules to protect against wrongdoing and harm. And Internet freedom raises tensions, like all freedoms do. But its benefits are worth it.

And that’s exactly the opposite of the approach being taken by Congress, which aims to put forth a top-down policy of censorship. A top down policy that nearly perfectly mimics the functional nature of the Great Firewall of China. Should the Obama administration go against its own State Department, it will serve to undermine Clinton’s long term efforts in pushing internet freedom around the globe. That would be quite a legacy to leave: to contradict one’s own Secretary of State who is pushing for greater internet freedom, and impose a system of censorship on the US. Please tell the White House not to take such a drastic measure.

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Comments on “White House Petition Against E-PARASITE/SOPA”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, first off, I have to say that having about every other post be about this topic is slightly overkill. I think we get it already, you don’t like the bill(s).

However, I do think this is a chance for you to come clean. Considering your work the last week or so has bordered on sounding like a lobbyist, would you perhaps like to declare your working relationships with the various groups involved here? Are you a member of any of the groups, are any of them paying for your time, your hotel, your airfare, your meals, or otherwise supporting your efforts, and are you getting paid in any way to do this work?

Your visits in Washington, are they as Mike Masnick, concerned citizen, or Mike Masnick, representing (insert group name here)?

I think it is really time you came clean on this stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree completely. I don’t care if a group of monkeys who support the advancement of democratic monkeys into our society are the ones supporting him. I agree with his position on many things and that’s what really matters.

I don’t care if Google is funding him, Microsoft, Disney (as much as I have learned to disrespect them after learning about their efforts to expand copy protection lengths), China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, The Communist Party, The Pirate Party, The Libertarian Party, the U.S. government (well, I guess I wouldn’t be too happy if our taxpayer money was supporting him and it went undisclosed, since governments have no business secretly promoting private agendas or even promoting them at all), the pharmaceutical cartel, it almost doesn’t really matter to me. So long as Mike isn’t knowingly taking stolen money or money that was obtained wrongfully, I’m fine with it. I agree with his position and almost whatever way he’s being funded to support his position is fine (with a few extreme exceptions of course).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I have long since some clean. I don’t work for any content companies. I don’t work for any political action committees, I don’t visit washington, and I don’t spend my time trying to get into elected members offices to chat. I am not in any way paid for my posting, my beliefs, or my opinions.

I am 100% clear.

Mike? Hello Mike?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You’re not clear until you prove so by revealing and using your identity. Hell, I can sit here and say I’m a gorgeous drool-inducing woman, and no one can determine otherwise.

Put up or shut up.

So you’re calling him out ….. anonymously. That’s a laugh. Why don’t you go pound salt?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

AC is not claiming anything about himself, he’s just noting the irony of an anonymous person suggesting that Mike might have unrevealed conflicts of interest when the anonymous commenter does not want to publicly reveal his identity for the community to scrutinize. The community knows Mike so we can massively and publicly investigate and scrutinize his background to a much greater degree. We can’t with this other AC. The fact that you can’t tell the difference here simply evidences your willful stupidity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The AC is also noting the fallacy of assuming that others are guilty until proven innocent with absolute, absolutely impossible to obtain proof. Mike is less likely to be guilty, being that he is non-anonymous so we can better scrutinize his background. The AC here is more likely not to be telling the truth about his alleged lack of any conflicts of interest being that we can’t scrutinize his/her background. So who should we believe, Mike or some rambling AC that no one can investigate?

A Monkey with Atitude (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Sure you are… Because anyone that visits Washington is a hypocrite? If you visit an elected Member you must be a shill? is that really your point?

I for the record have been to Washington, I have visited my House Representative (by his own invite) and have met both my Senators… Does that (by your definition) make me a shill or lobbyist?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Do you spend your days trying to get into every reps office? Do you spend time in Washington as part of a vacation, or is it your business to see the government?

You are trying very hard to deflect for Mike, but the question remains:

Is he just being an incredibly shill against SOPA, or is he a paid lobbyist or representative? Is this a blog, or a PAC in disguise?

Stop worrying about me… worry about Mike.

A Monkey with Atitude says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

No i was invited to thank me for my service

and you are trying very hard to steer the conversation away from the points

– why have petitions that are at best useless and at worst misleading
– why have more laws that break the very foundations of one of the best innovations of the last century
– will the White House contradict its own State Department?

Are you so scared of a blog you have to label it as a PAC or make it to be nefarious… more telling about you than me really (or your supporters)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

As a concerned citizen I really don’t give a flying bleep if Mike is representing himself and/or a group/business/whatever. I share his views and I am glad he is getting the message out there to a wider audience.

If you think all the E-Parasite articles are overkill then don’t read the blog, pretty simple.

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I love how people on all sides of any issue, be it copyright, vaccinations, or even daylight savings time, try to discredit the “other side” by calling them a lobbyist. Of course they are. Anyone who tries to convince their representatives that a specific stance is what is wanted is a lobbyist.

I don’t like it from my side any more than theirs. Especially since baseless accusations of lobbying cannot be disproven, no matter what you say. All AC #1 has to do is call Mike a liar, no matter what he says, and we’re back to square one.

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Mike HAS disclosed his working relationships. He does run a business, after all. And he drums up that business by running this blog. And everyone who contributes, for or against him, are helping his business.

Remember, jerky ACs:
Every time you bash Mike, Glyn, Dark Helmet, or anyone else who is posting on here, either as a blog, or as a commenter, you’re helping Mike PAY for this blog. I hope he laughs at you all the way to the bank.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Mike, first off, I have to say that having about every other post be about this topic is slightly overkill.”

So you think LESS speech is the correct way to take a position in the face of the ‘monied lobbying’ that is going on? That is not the position ‘they’ take. ‘They’ take meetings with congress-critters that ‘normal’ folk (aka constituents) are not allowed to attend. That is a pretty BIG restriction of speech, that might require volume (quantity not loudness) to overcome.

Rob says:


“in which 25,000 signatures will guarantee a response, this actually seems like a case where just such a petition would work well”

It’ll guarantee a response, which doesn’t mean a damn thing about “working well”. Given all the responses I’ve seen for the other ones that have been publicized, this petition means exactly squat.

out_of_the_blue says:

IM-POSSIBLE that anyone thinks State Dept is for /any/ freedom.

>>> “…the State Department itself is quite worried about the bill, as it would almost entirely undermine all of its efforts to promote internet freedom around the globe.”

Just lost your last shred of credibility.

>>> “seriously hindering the ability to create new startups, new jobs and new platforms to help everyone.” — No, as I’ve said many times: you’re for leveraging grifters over actual producers of content. Your notions benefit a narrow range of grifters, NOT everyone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: IM-POSSIBLE that anyone thinks State Dept is for /any/ freedom.

If I were you and I were posting here I really wouldn’t want to make any discussion about credibility.

Is this really the best you can do, suggesting that the notion ‘don’t pass E-PARASITE’ works only to ‘benefit a narrow range of grifters?’ Sure, you’ve admitted in other threads that there will be collateral fallout from this but who cares about that now?

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: IM-POSSIBLE that anyone thinks State Dept is for /any/ freedom.

Y’know what, no, it doesn’t matter. Not as much as you want it to anyway. New technology and the internet allow us to do things that weren’t practical or possible a decade ago, and those that don’t want to adapt to these new and better ways of doing things should not be holding back those of us that do. It’s called disruptive technology for a reason.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The real question, however, is whether or not the Obama White House wants to directly contradict Hillary Clinton and the State Department.”

Mike, I also have to take some exception here, because you are taking the comments made by Clinton and applying your own meaning to them.

Openess does not mean lawlessness. Nobody in the State Department is going to condone illegal activity, they are not standing up for pirates, filesharing sites, or file lockers packed full of pirated material.

An open internet does not mean a free for all. Pirating stuff, selling counterfeit materials, and otherwise abusing the law online isn’t some sort of right. The openness discussed was political and social in nature, not some sort of support for your infinite distribution piracy model.

Your intentional misreading of Clinton’s comments are somewhere between amusing and sad. Fail for you, sir.

A Monkey with Atitude (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Define illegal… something you don’t like or understand is not illegal.. But you all seem to like to write laws to make things you don’t like or understand illegal (or just to create a “legal” protectionist racket)

You say Pirate, because its a hot button, but define what it means… File sharing = pirate – Gosh that doesn’t added up.. But you have to come up with something to call them to de-humanize and make it sound bad, when in reality it is far far different…

So sorry you failed long ago and now its time to bury this IP Protectionist crap next to the buggy whip makers so the technologist can continue to move ahead instead being held back by the blind and lethargic
Obama said Open and all your keywords and that’s worked out so well that i wouldn’t vote for him again if Stalin ran against him (or Mao)…

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Wow I really have made you paranoid, haven’t I?

I thought you claimed that I was masquerading as an AC in order to attack mike and destroy your credibility – now I’m masquerading as an AC to support him? Which is it?

Funny thing is, I actually HAVE made a few AC comments lately, because I haven’t been very active here the past couple of weeks (yes, i DO have work to do, thanks for noticing) and I just didn’t bother logging in for quick comments. In the same timespan I’ve noticed you accuse two ACs of being me – one on a thread in which I was indeed present as an AC – and yet both times you’ve missed the mark.

You’re even bad at being paranoid! Amazing.

Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here’s one reason why the State Department would be concerned.

Let’s say that, as required by law, GoDaddy blocks access to the Pirate Bay, which is hosted in a foreign country. OK, let’s assume that’s OK with the State Dep’t.

However, the bill also prohibits making and distributing any technology that allows an American to circumvent GoDaddy’s ban of the Pirate Bay.

Here’s the problem. The technology that allows an American to circumvent a ban to access the Pirate Bay is the same technology that a Chinese dissident would use to access the Wikipedia entry about Tiananmen Square.

Would the U.S. government take action against a technology producer whose products were used primarily to circumvent Chinese censorship? Unlikely.

But suppose the technology, which might be Tor or something similar, was used 51% of the time to circumvent copyright protections, and only 49% to circumvent human rights restrictions. Would that be subject to restrictions? What about 80-20? How about technology that was intentionally designed to circumvent copyright restrictions, but ended up being used mostly to evade human rights restrictions? Or vice versa?

The bill isn’t very clear, and it’s not hard to see how there could be a significant negative effect on censorship-circumvention technologies promoted by the State Department.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Sorry for crossposting, but I’m extremely amused (I even twitted back to @MPAA)


MPAA (or CreativeAmerica to be precise) also have a petition that already generated 100,000 signatures… Oh wait, did it?

@MPAA just twitted:

Impressive! RT @creativeamerica: Creative America supporters have sent over 100,000 letters to #Congress for stronger content theft laws.

But if you follow the link in the original @creativeamerica twit, you’ll find a page that says “4,173 Letters Sent So Far”.

BearGriz72 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


Now, Send a Message to Your Representatives in Congress
This House seat is currently vacant, but we will deliver your letter as soon as it is filled.
Each letter is individually addressed to each official, and the letters are private.

The following letter text will be sent:

Please Support the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261)

More than 2 million Americans in all 50 states depend on film and television to make a living. Millions more treasure the work they create and believe that American jobs, creativity and innovation deserve to be protected. The entertainment community has helped grow the U.S. economy and expand America’s positive image and contributions around the world. But it is threatened by an accelerating epidemic of content theft. It has already cost America tens of thousands of jobs, and more are at stake. That’s why I am asking you to support the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) which cracks down on rogue websites and makes illegal streaming of content a felony.

These rogue sites are responsible for peddling stolen creative works to tens of millions of unsuspecting consumers each and every day. These sites look legitimate, take credit cards, carry ads, show up in search results – and they are run by sophisticated thieves who make millions off of the hard work of the men and women whose efforts made these works possible.

New laws are needed to shut down these sites, cut off their stolen revenue and protect American jobs and the American consumer. It’s time for Congress to act. Now.

Please help. Please protect these millions of jobs and America?s creativity by co-sponsoring and supporting passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261).

Your signature will be added from the information you provide below.

Oh the funny!
How may lies and misleading truths can you jam into one letter?

I also notice that they DO NOT allow any customization or personalization of these letters the way the organizations on our side of the fence (e.g. EFF, Public Knowledge, Demand Progress, & Fight For The Future) do. I wonder what they are afraid of?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s funny clicking through those twitter posts on the MPAA’s twitter account.

While I’m not that familiar with using Twitter, I noticed some things that seem a little odd.

The MPAA’s twitter account claims 604 followers but if I click on the followers many of them aren’t pictures of people’s faces and they don’t seem to name or be associated with any people in particular. One of them Sky Fall Carroll which has a picture of an Eagle with an American flag in the background. Many of his tweets seem to resemble general announcements that have some sort of twisted and undisclosed political agenda? One of the accounts tweeting to that account(?) was PublicInterests. Its image displays Live Feed in red text with a black background. Again, most of its tweets seem to be composed of randomized general announcements.

It seems like the MPAA’s twitter following is a fabricated echo chamber?

hmm (profile) says:

Re: Re:

and 4,173 of those will be copy-kit identical spams.

MPAA also has a nasty history of faking peoples agreement and sending letters “on your behalf”. They usually target groups such as the elderly or disabled or non-english speakers (who SOMEHOW manage to write in english just this once!) who won’t realize that anything has been sent in their name without their knowledge claiming a stance they themselves may not even care 2 bits about.

hmm (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes but this is Obama’s turning point.
He either needs to be FOR or AGAINST censorship, and this is going to be how people remember him:

either “yeah, I remember Obama, he’s the guy that didn’t give a crap about the public and sided with corporations and broke the internet and started the civil war”

or “Yeah, I remember Obama, he’s the guy that stopped corporations putting in their own laws and robbing the US blind”

Bear (profile) says:


What the hell good is any White House petition site when the responses that they have given to date are nothing but the pure ‘fuck you’ mindset of the “Administration’s” positions?

Who wants the TSA?

Who wants the Patriot Act?

Who wants marijuana prohibition?

Who wants anything from these ass hats with “protection” in its description?

What am I missing?

Paul M Devino says:

Stop the E-PARASITE Act.

I so wanted to sign this petition. The bill is patently unconstitutional, vaguely written, and ripe for abuses of the worst kind. I’m sickened that such a bill could even be introduced to the floor of either house, let alone both under different guises. I signed up for Whitehouse.gov just to sign, but upon entering my username and password I get an error 404 page not found. They sure arn’t making it easy to speak out against this. Anyone who has already signed, did you experience this runaround?

Anonymous Coward says:

“Remember, Clinton has become a staunch defender of internet freedom against attempts to censor the internet worldwide.”

She’ll change her tune if she gets elected. Opposing ridiculous IP bills (and laws) is a good selling point to get elected because politicians know that the general public doesn’t like these laws. Once elected, she’ll change her mind and start supporting such legislation.

wizened (profile) says:

I'm not sure they are all that interested

I went to the site. Clicked on a link to create an account. Got a big blank blue box. Turns out the site doesn’t work in Chrome. Tried again in IE. Got a form. Filled it out. Received a message to look for an email and to respond to it. No email came. Went back, tried to register again. Got message that email was already registered and to ask for my password. Asked for password. Got message that an email had been sent. No email received. Tried twice more. No emails. Not sure they really want to hear from the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm not sure they are all that interested

Well, the number of petitioners are continuing to increase. I see them constantly going up. I suspect the limiting factor here is the web servers capacity, otherwise those numbers would likely be increasing at a more rapid rate even. Other Techdirt commenters seem to also be having problems, so apparently this petition is really popular and over flooding the servers. Keep trying.

Anonymous Coward says:

I expect the White House to do nothing but what the Liberal/Progressive base wishes it to do that are in line with Obama’ mind set.

Remember the party of no, when Obama’ party held the keys to the country, Obama still had a hard time getting things passed. 60 in the senate and the majority in the house.
But they tried to blame the Republicans for not getting every thing the Obama White House wanted. Hell the Republicans were excluded from everything, not even allowed to offer amendments.

What the Senate and White House want is to tell you what to do and when to do it. To give that power to a bunch of government bureaucrats and to strip every one of their wealth unless you agree with them.

The Logician says:

When one’s livelihood depends on ignorance and deceit, as those of the legacy entertainment industry, their supporters in government, and their shills here do, acknowledgement of that ignorance and of the true nature of their character is unlikely to happen by them themselves, only by those who recognize it for what it is. The survival of the old guard and those who speak for them depends on their blindness, and so they will not give it up, nor will they allow themselves to see the truth of what we are saying.

It is much like C.S. Lewis wrote in The Magician’s Nephew of the character of Uncle Andrew, who could not hear Aslan or the other creatures speak because he would not allow himself to believe that they could, but only what he wanted to believe. It is the same with those who wish this bill and others like it to pass. They do not wish to accept that what we have been saying is true, they only wish to believe what they choose to. As Lewis wrote, “the trouble with trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Thanks to yesterday’s hearings and the American Censorship campaign, this petition is now over 34,000 signees as of last night and we’re only half-way through the month. At least now we’ll hear what the White House has to say on it since Obama hasn’t said a word on it in public. I’m sure the response will be vapid and condescending though.

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