Thursday, September 20, 2012

Internet companies form lobbying group on K Street to oppose future SOPA's and COPA's

Ceclia Kang reports in the Washington Post today (Thursday September 20, 2012) on p. A12, that major Internet companies (Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, and probably some others like Netflix) are forming an Internet Association on “K Street” in Washington for lobbying against possibly dangerous federal laws that get proposed in Congress.

The article was reproduced on Benton with link here

The most recent visible battle concerned piracy legislation (SOPA and Protect-IP), and there are other concerns about international regulation (CIPSA) and surveillance. 

Earlier, Congress had passed COPA and the ancestor Communications Decency Act, both of which would be overturned by the Supreme Court or other (in the case of COPA) a complicated history of litigation, mostly based on First Amendment problems.

The recent furor of Internet videos “causing unrest” overseas, while probably a canard, at least raises the idea that “asymmetric” or “gratuitous” speech could be regulated in the future over national security concerns, and idea that sounds like giving in to terror or bullying. Congress could want to meddle in how Internet companies define their TOS rules (right now, Facebook's are the strictest).  Generally, service providers have been able to turn off access to unusually "controversial" content in countries with violence, without regulating speech domestically. 

Other concerns include regulating tracking of web visitors, because advertising business models may be predicated on the practice.

It will be interesting to see how Electronic Frontier Foundation works with this new group. Sometimes, even ordinary citizens are on both sides of an issue, such as with tracking, or possibly even piracy.

Again, a blogger like me is a “journalist” so it is difficult to see how I could be employed by a lobbying group, which must in some sense behave in an adversarial and not completely objective matter.  But I guess I would never have wanted to work in “public relations.”

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