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.