Ron Wyden Puts A Hold On SESTA And Warns About Its Dangers

from the good-for-him dept

Following the Senate Commerce Committee voting SESTA out of Committee this morning, Senator Ron Wyden quickly announced that he is placing a public hold on the bill while at the same time issuing a warning about just how damaging the bill could be:

“Today I am announcing my public hold and a public warning about SESTA. Having written several laws to combat the scourge of sex trafficking, I take a backseat to no one on the urgency of fighting this horrendous crime. However, I continue to be deeply troubled that this bill’s approach will make it harder to catch dangerous criminals, that it will favor big tech companies at the expense of startups and that it will stifle innovation.

“After 25 years of fighting these battles, I've learned that just because a big technology company says something is good, doesn't mean it's good for the internet or innovation. Most innovation in the digital economy comes from the startups and small firms, the same innovators who will be harmed or locked out of the market by this bill. That said, I appreciate that Senators Thune and Nelson worked to improve SESTA, including by narrowing its scope. While it still makes inadvisable changes to bedrock internet law, those changes are narrower than originally proposed.

Those are fighting words -- and it's good to see him come out and directly say that just because big tech companies are for SESTA it doesn't mean it's a good thing (now will some people finally stop falsely claiming that Wyden just represents the big tech companies?). Last week's decision by the Internet Association (which represents the largest internet companies) along with Facebook's direct support for SESTA remain very troubling. These organizations have experience with intermediary liability laws and know how important they are, and how weakening them gets abused. Wyden knows that too.

In some ways, this reminds me of a similar situation, almost exactly seven years ago, when Wyden blocked COICA, an alarmist censorship bill pushed by Hollywood, which eventually morphed into SOPA and PIPA. As with SESTA, COICA was seen as an "easy" win for Congress and passed out of Committee with a unanimous vote. Wyden put a public hold on it and forced Senators to go back to the drawing board -- and eventually the entire bill was killed.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 1:45pm

    Usually when a big company says something is good, it is because it protects them more than competitors. Most companies will take a financial hit if it means less viable competition can get started.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 1:47pm

    Sorry Wyden, it is not about stifling innovation. It is about handing law enforcement a tool they have demonstrated (repeatedly) they will abuse in horrific ways. Fuck the money dude, this would allow cops to destroy anyone and everyone online that they disliked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 8 Nov 2017 @ 1:54pm

      Re:

      But it's also bad for the Internet and innovation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 1:57pm

      Re:

      Yeah but he can't say that publicly. Especially considering the current political leadership.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bruce C., 8 Nov 2017 @ 3:33pm

      Re: Bad tools for law enforcement

      Yeah, but no senator is going to come out in public and say that the police are crooks. His publicly stated reason aren't necessarily his only reasons.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        discordian_eris (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 3:40pm

        Re: Re: Bad tools for law enforcement

        They may not be his only reasons, that is true. However if he lacks the moral courage to state his true objections, refuses to say what everyone knows, then his is complicit in allowing it to continue. Considering the classified briefings that he and the other senators get, there is zero chance that they aren't aware of just how bad it is now. If he (and the other senators) is too much of a moral coward to speak up, then all of the lives this legislation will destroy are on him and the others.

        The truth is that ass-hats are everywhere.  When you give them superior power, you can take a tiny ass-hat that is bearable and create a significant ass-hat.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 4:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: Bad tools for law enforcement

          …then h[e] is complicit in allowing it to continue.

          Well, of course you're not complicit. And you have moral courage, too.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 1:51pm

    Uh huh. "bedrock internet law" favors the giant corporations.

    Believing ANY politician, let alone one from Oregon, is sign of gullibility.

    I take a front seat to no one in suspicion! -- Being suspicious and expecting the worst, I always stay in the back seat, unless there's a rumble seat, or another vehicle.

    After the flip of Internet Association which startled even you, we don't know this isn't the old double-triple-cross-blind-fake-reverse so common in politics. Google / Facebook could cave in public, while knowing it's fixed.

    But, oh, yes! After years being accused of "Wyden just represents the big tech companies", this makes up for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 1:58pm

      Re: Uh huh. "bedrock internet law" favors the giant corporations.

      If I read your post correctly, you're espousing a counter to the old adage "credit where credit is due" and are working on the maxim "no credit to anyone in congress whatsoever no matter what they do"?

      I can't imagine this policy being adopted en mass would yield positive results as congress would then have zero reason to listen to anyone besides lobbyists even a little bit if they know they're going to get derision from the people regardless.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 2:00pm

      Re: Uh huh. "bedrock internet law" favors the giant corporations.

      The fact that Wyden has been proven right about almost everything he warns about might have something to with people being willing to believe what he says when he says "this is a bad thing".

      And why the hate against Oregon?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 2:44pm

        Re: Re: Uh huh. "bedrock internet law" favors the giant corporations.

        Oregon is a financial and political shitshow. Wyden is an anomaly that I hope keeps his senate seat for a very long time.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          harbingerofdoom (profile), 10 Nov 2017 @ 4:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Uh huh. "bedrock internet law" favors the giant corporations.

          really? thats your argument? Oregon is a financial and political shitshow?

          Because D.C., chicago, stockton, detroit and flint arent?

          "this places political climate sucks" is not a valid platform to dismiss anything and everything about a place.

          except stockton... geeze stockton... get better already would ya?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 2:00pm

    Is Wyden like the only person in congress who has any grasp on technology at all?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 2:00pm

      Re:

      Yes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 3:18pm

        Re: Re:

        No, he just chooses to be be more responsible than most.

        Congress knowingly bends Americans over when it makes these laws... to imply that it is just ignorance or stupidity makes you look dumb and stupid, which is most Americans anyways so there you go. The how and the why a person like Trump or Hillary could be elected as President.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 3:29pm

      Re:

      You can expect most to not care. While legislation around the internet is very important, it is not something most people care about in the state. Thus, a politician can often get by using the vague party-specific platitudes we all know.

      Most people going into politics like power over economy or legal. IT is also the bottom area for newbie politicians and the dregg the voters like, but the party does't. It is a stepping-stone to get more political power in the party. If you are stupid enough to use reason in the work, you may be selling your political carreer. It is also difficult since you can't rely 100% on fulfilling paid promises by parrotting talking points from lobbyists and you can more easily end up in a shitstorm.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      freedomfan (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 10:11pm

      Re:

      There are others. For instance, Rand Paul is one of those who is usually on the right side of the issues that get attention on Techdirt (e.g. on the side against passing a stupid law that will make things worse). But, these issues seem to be Wyden's bread and butter. And, thank goodness for that. I don't honestly know Wyden's opinion on most issues. But, I have come to expect that, on technology-related issues, I am thrilled that he is out there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      harbingerofdoom (profile), 10 Nov 2017 @ 4:33pm

      Re:

      not at all- nearly all senators know exactly how to accept money from tech companies to keep their traps shut and support idiotic legislation

      there are a couple who just choose not to is all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MadCow (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 3:05pm

    The People's Champ

    I think it's time for The Rock to step down and we crown Senator Ron Wyden as the true People's Champion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 5:22pm

    Now you start to see why MyNameHere bitches about Wyden so much. Wyden's about the only guy in Congress who will call things out on laws that MyNameHere likes because it grants authority increasing amounts of unchecked privilege.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 6:52pm

    When will...

    ...the age of the Internet actually reach politics? When will children who grew up with technology no longer be able to act as if they do not understand technology, believably? (And by understand, I mean in only the most visceral sense, as technology is actually complex, and many 'experts' don't actually understand it fully...it is that complex).

    Then, when that age is accomplished, when will we be be able to believe anything politicians have to say, unless they act contrary to the rest of the politicians and say something that actually makes sense?

    Kinda like Wyden does now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      freedomfan (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 10:27pm

      Re: When will...

      When will the age of politicians exhibiting a solid understanding of anything (aside from politics itself) actually reach politics? The best evidence seems to indicate: never. Seriously, politicians routinely demonstrate a deeply flawed understanding of economics, medicine, law enforcement, science, etc. I would love it if things were somehow different with high-tech fields, but I don't see why they would be.

      The real question is: Why do we trust politicians to deal with these issues and clamor for government to "fix" problems the people running it know so little about?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 7:37am

        Re: Re: When will...

        Meritocracy when?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 12:29pm

        Re: Re: When will...

        When will the age of politicians exhibiting a solid understanding of anything (aside from politics itself) actually reach politics?

        If "the age of the Internet actually [reached] politics", one obvious possibility would be the elimination of politicians. "Official" politicians anyway. They are, to some degree, a workaround to logistical problems that no longer exist. We have one person represent millions, because it used to be impractical to frequently collect the opinion of millions. Today, opinions from all across the world are not difficult to come by.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 9 Nov 2017 @ 9:54am

      Re: When will...

      When will children who grew up with technology no longer be able to act as if they do not understand technology, believably?

      Never.

      You know that "Any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic" line? People think computers are magic.

      I used to think young people understood computers better than older people. Then I spent six months working at a university computer store. I don't know if it'd be accurate to say the average college-age kids doesn't know the difference between Windows and Office, but a lot don't.

      I think we will probably come to an age where the law swings back in favor of fair use, given that sharing copyrighted material is fundamental in how people communicate now. But I fear that people like Wyden and Lieu who understand the issues on a basic technical level will continue to be rarities.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 9 Nov 2017 @ 12:21am

    At least we know now where Mike has been getting his talking points from. It's perfect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      Sounds like someone's salty about SOPA.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2017 @ 11:13am

      Re:

      So out of curiosity, and given turnabout is fair play, who's giving you yours?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 9 Nov 2017 @ 12:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Nobody. It's my own opinion. Mike's however, seems to be a carbon copy, almost point for point, with Wyden's. Considering his close relationship with Wyden (including guest posts here) it's not hard to imagine them having a chat about the topic or Mike getting an email with talking points.

        It might not be true, but it looks way to similar to be missed!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2017 @ 1:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Really? Because your 'these sites have a social responsibility that they need to address' arguments sound remarkably like some of the defenses the ones pushing the bill have made, and if making similar arguments implies that you're getting talking points from someone else, well, as you yourself just said, 'If might not be true, but it looks way to similar to be missed!'

          Regarding 'similarities', if Person A says that sticking your hand in a fire is a bad idea because it will cause damage and hurt like mad, and Person B says roughly the same thing, it doesn't mean they are copying each other, it just means that both of them are pointing out the obvious.

          Similarly, if Person A points out that a prospective bill is dangerously vague, counterproductive, and will cause significant collateral damage, and Person B says roughly the same...

          Well, I'm sure you can make the connection between the two examples.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 6:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You mean MyNameHere is a fanboy of Feinstein, Sessions and Comey? Say it isn't so, my heart can't take that kind of surprise!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            MyNameHere (profile), 10 Nov 2017 @ 2:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Good try. You actually thought about it, but you missed the point.

            Agreeing with someone in general is one thing. You and I can agree that Earl Grey is the best tea, or that Heineken is perhaps the least desirable beer on the planet (after Fosters, I am told). However, we are unlikely to use the same words or to aim at exactly the same details of each to arrive at that conclusion.

            Your fire example is way to simplistic, a 0 or 1. Yes or no. There is no grey.

            Mike's posts and Wyden's quote are so similar, that you would think they were written by the same person. That usually comes from two people either working from the same set of notes (aka talking points) or that they have talked together and agreed on something.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 10 Nov 2017 @ 6:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I just reread the snippet included in the article, and none of it is so specific that there need be any talking points and/or meeting. Sex traffic is bad but this bill has a good chance of making it worse, large companies will be better able to handle the burdens while smaller companies stand to be driven under by it, smaller companies tend to be the more innovative so screwing them over stands to be damaging to innovation. Those are all addressing the various problems the bill has based upon what is problematic.

              By all means, point to the 'so similar' parts that aren't simply a natural result of two people looking at the same and pointing out that it is a problem.

              If a car is on fire and you've got two people looking at it it's perfectly natural and expected for both people to point out that it's on fire, because that is the primary problem. What you would not expect is for one of them to say 'The car is on fire' and the other to say 'Oh, and wheels are a little worn down', as even if that's true it's not going to be the main focus of concern.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2017 @ 7:43pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "It's just copying and pasting!" bellowed John Steele.

                MyNameHere holds a soft spot for Prenda Law that he will never admit to.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 7:48am

    Non-American here, what exactly does a "public hold" do in this case?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 2:36pm

    Google isn't going to be happy about this at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 3:30pm

    If it's designed to protecto the children, then it's good, right? /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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