PublishedNovember 16, 2011

SOPA Hearing Demonstrates Need For More Expertise

The Stopping Online Piracy Hearing began Wednesday morning with six witnesses  — 5 supporting the bill to hold Internet companies and other intermediaries liable for copyright infringing material on their website.

The many groups opposing the overly broad, convoluted approach to reduce online copyright infringement including CCIA, CEA, NetCoalition, venture capitalists, law professors, human rights groups, cybersecurity experts and Internet users did not have a seat at the table.
Three things became clear at the hearing. First, that if the real goal was combatting a few dozen foreign rogue websites, that goal could be addressed through more narrow legislation that did not do collateral damage to the architecture of the Internet. Second, that many members, aside from Reps. Issa and Lofgren, did not fully understand what this bill would really do. Third, none of the witnesses was an expert on the technology and the cybersecurity issues H.R. 3261 would raise.
At one point, Rep. Lungren, R-Calif., who took over for House Judiciary Chairman Smith, expressed frustration that no one there could answer his technical, security questions. Lungren and Rep. Jackson-Lee also said this legislation needed to be referred to the Homeland Security committee.
CCIA submitted a formal statement to the committee asking it to consult technology experts before implementing a broad plan to censor a great part of the Internet and control the activities of many Internet companies.
Ed Black also published a piece in Huffington Post responding to some of the ludicrous jobs claims on the other side.
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