Homework Assignment: Go Talk To Your Representative Or Senator About SOPA/PIPA

from the do-it! dept

We've already discussed how things will work at the end of the month when the Senate comes back into session and Harry Reid tries to put PIPA to a vote. However, as we noted, that only works if enough Senators are convinced to support a plan to move forward with PIPA and approve the first bill to allow an American internet blacklist to occur. That means there are just a few weeks to make sure that Senators are aware of the widespread outrage about these bills, and that they're not left falling for the lies that Hollywood and the bills' sponsors are spreading.

One way to do this is to go see your Senators and your Congressional Reps over the next few weeks. With Congress out of session, it's pretty typical for elected officials to hold "town hall meetings," and it's important for people to attend these sessions and speak up. I know that many people feel apathetic towards elected officials, and don't believe anything said to them will make a difference -- but that's not true. If they're at least hearing about the controversy and concerns enough, at least some will recognize that this bill is not something they want their names associated with and will back off. Unfortunately, these meetings are often scheduled with very little notice, and the standards/requirements to get in vary drastically. Thankfully, folks have been putting together some great resources to help you figure out when these are being held and how to take part.
  • The good folks at Reddit are helping to crowdsource info about meetings.
  • There's a Meetup.com page listing out known townhall sessions. Again, these often appear with very little notice, so check back often.
  • Even without townhall sessions, you can and should reach out to your elected officials about meeting with them to express your concerns. Even if they don't actually take the meeting, hearing from enough people will alert them that there's widespread concern. Internet Freedom has set up a neat forum system, organized by state, that will both highlight when there are townhalls and, more importantly, provide details on how to request a meeting with your Senators. On top of that, it will allow coordination for those who do get meetings to go with a group of similarly concerned residents.
  • EFF has a page about in district meetings, why they're important and how to set them up. It also has a one-pager with some basic facts that sums up the problems (pdf).
  • Public Knowledge has also put together a quick two-page citizen packet (pdf) that highlights problems with the bills, and includes some "sample questions" that people might want to ask if possible.
Now, as a group of combined concerned citizens, we don't have the lobbying power of Hollywood or the US Chamber of Commerce, but constituent concerns do matter to politicians. They want to get re-elected at some point, after all. There's less than three weeks to make every Senator aware of the damage they're about to do to the internet, to innovation and to the economy if they're not well-informed about this bill. This is a true GoDaddy situation. While there are some efforts to have SOPA/PIPA supporters lose their next elections, all that's really needed is for them to recognize that this bill is bad news, and to refuse to vote to move the bill forward. That can be done, but it requires a lot of people speaking up and making a difference. Hollywood has the easy access, but the rest of us have the sheer numbers and the facts on our side. Let's make that work for us...

Filed Under: congress, get involved, meetings, pipa, protect ip, senate, sopa, town hall

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jan 2012 @ 9:19pm

    Whichever party wants to make government bigger for their interests is going to use that power to get lobbying money. They are going to withhold services to their political enemies while favoring their special interests. Stating both parties do it is not excusing it.

    The only answer is to make government smaller- period.

    There is no such thing as a large organization that doesn't have some corruption going on within it. Business, Government, etc...giving them any power at all is a mistake especially when they claim they are only trying to help you. If you haven't realized yet that there isn't a selfless politician then you are an idealistic fool.

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