'Nerds' Finally Get Their SOPA Hearings Over Technical Impact… But Not At The Judiciary Committee

from the good-to-see dept

While Lamar Smith and the House Judiciary Committee still have refused to hear from the actual technology experts, Rep. Issa has now scheduled a SOPA-related hearing… in his House Oversight Committee, and it will finally allow tech experts to speak about the technological impact of SOPA. It’s a good list of speakers including: famed security researcher Dan Kaminsky (who co-authored the paper about problems of SOPA with Paul Vixie and others), Stewart Baker (former DHS/NSA top official, who has warned about SOPA harming internet security), Dr. Leonard Napolitano (from Sandia National Labs, who also warned about the security problems), Michael Macleod-Ball (from the ACLU). And representing the startup world, we’ve got Brad Burnham (from Union Square Ventures — probably the most sought after VC firm for startups today) and Alexis Ohanian, the entrepreneur behind Reddit, Hipmunk and Breadpig, and who has been an outstanding advocate for why SOPA is dangerous. Think of this as the hearing that Lamar Smith didn’t want you to hear. Update: Reasonable point in the comments: this hearing is extremely one-sided as well. Perhaps that’s fitting “counter-balance” for the pro-SOPA hearing that the Judiciary Committee held, but it still would be nice to have at least some “pro-” voices on the hearing. Of course, can you think of an actual, respected technologist who is in favor of SOPA? Yeah… didn’t think so…

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Comments on “'Nerds' Finally Get Their SOPA Hearings Over Technical Impact… But Not At The Judiciary Committee”

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27 Comments
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The only problem I see with this is that it’s just as one-sided as the House Judiciary Committee hearing was. I’ve very much against SOPA but we should be giving the pro’s a chance to get their rhetoric shoved in their faces directly

That’s a very good point. Though… can you find an actual technologist in favor of SOPA?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

To quote a tech buddy of mine:

“Oh there are tech dudes out there who would support CACA (his term for SOPA/PIPA, stands for Crap Assed Copyright Amendments). I’m sure you can find a few at Sony or the US Chamber of Commerce. Of course, given the level of penetration of the networks for those organizations, I don’t have to comment on what I think of the skills of such people.”

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Note also that there is a difference between claims made on the record and personal beliefs. Companies that produce IP tend to have official positions that are anti-piracy, and most people will parrot the line dictated to them by the high-ups if they feel their job depends on it. I only counted those people I know that I know the personal, off-the-record positions of.

Though you do bring up one point: it shouldn’t be that hard for these companies to conjure up employees that will say whatever the company tells them to when they’re having to speak as a spokesman of the company.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Mathematical, scientific and technical truth IS often one-sided. Our contemporary media like to pretend that “there are two sides to every story” because it makes their lives easier — and, when one of the sides is obvious raving nonsense, it makes for controversy, which is good for ratings/sales. They claim that this is “balanced” and “fair”, which is disingenuous and entirely self-serving.

That’s why (just about) every calm scientific debunking of, oh, let’s pick this Mayan calendar bullshit that many pathetically stupid people are buying into as an example, is bookended by some idiot with woo-woo pseudoscience claiming that no, really, it’s going to happen, mainstream scientists are suppressing it, it’s a conspiracy, blah, blah, blah. This is why you see morons arguing for creationism, ignorant assholes denying anthropocentric global warming, and con artists flogging the merits of astrology.

And this in large part is why, early in the 21st century, your average American is a mathematically/scientifically/technically illiterate bozo who lacks even the slightest trace of critical reasoning skills. (And why your average Congresscritter can get away with trumpeting their own profound ignorance of even the merest basics of how the Internet works.) As Isaac Asimov said, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

And this is why we have people who have never solved a partial differential equation, never built a linear amplifier, never configured an authoritative resolver with BIND, never worked through the Krebs cycle, never calculated the static load on a beam, never done any of the thousands of things required to achieve a baseline level of competence in biology or hydraulic engineering or network design, with the audacity to believe that they’re worthy to hold opinions — and what’s more, to impose those opinions on others.

In this particular case, there’s a reason why the experts have lined up as they do. They’re right.

Violated (profile) says:

OPEN

This is good news to finally get their opinion heard in Congress. Long overdue but getting there now.

I cannot say this is a big surprise when it was Congressman Issa who was jointly behind the OPEN bill which is an alternative to SOPA and PIPA. So working hard to kill those two and to promote his own which is how politics should happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The only problem I see with this is that it’s just as one-sided as the House Judiciary Committee hearing was.”

Agreed. SOPA/PIPA supporters will just ignore it. Plus, optics are not great. Frankly, just looks like Issa used his authority as chair of House Oversight Committee to have a hearing on a bill that doesn’t fall under that committee’s mandate and then rounded up experts who agree with him. Wouldn’t be surprised if this was more harmful than beneficial in the long run.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile) says:

Re: Re:

An interesting dilemma. You’re certainly right that having an entirely one-sided panel doesn’t look good. That said, I’d be hard-pressed to find a technologist that supports SOPA. As I’ve stated before, between my co-workers at various jobs and personal friends, almost all of which are professional engineers that create IP for a living, I know exactly one person who thinks piracy is a serious problem, and he describes SOPA as “scary”.

GoDaddy looked like the one lone hope for SOPA supporters in the technology sector, till it was revealed that GoDaddy had managed to get itself specifically exempted from the SOPA requirements, and hence was merely trying to use SOPA to regulate its competitors.

If you find a technologist who supports SOPA, though, feel free to send Issa an e-mail requesting them. Maybe he’ll be less excluding of people he disagrees with than Lamar Smith et al.

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