Lungren Seeks Public Input on SOPA
SACRAMENTO – Though the debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has played out on an international Internet stage, one local voice in the conversation seeking more public input has been Congressman Dan Lungren, (R-Gold River).The SOPA Act purports to stop the online piracy of intellectual property such as movies, music and many other modes of artistic expression. But as the bill meandered through the vetting process of Congressional committees with few if any challenges, the man who represents California’s Third Congressional District had to, in effect, call a time-out before there was a “rush to judgment.”
Lungren, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and who chairs the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, recognized early on that legislative remedy prescribed to thwart the piracy was also potent enough to censor or kill free speech on some Internet sites where piracy allegations were found.
As Internet sites and services as diverse as Google, Wikipedia and Firefox displayed visible signs of protests on their pages Wednesday (Jan. 18), the phones at Congressional offices such as Lungren’s were buzzing with questions and commentary. So much so, Lungren issued the following statement to constituents: “If you tried to e-mail me yesterday, you probably encountered difficulties with my Website. It was not that my office was part of the Internet blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – but the extra traffic and e-mails from people writing me about SOPA did temporarily bring down our contact form,” he said. “Listening to many constituents on SOPA yesterday is exactly what this process has lacked from its beginning: hearing from all sides about the bill and its effect not just on intellectual property rights but on the free dissemination of speech online. “I was disappointed and greatly concerned when SOPA rolled through the Judiciary Committee without expert witness testimony on the DNSSEC (Domain Name System security extensions) provisions. In a rush to move SOPA through Committee so quickly, major cybersecurity concerns were overlooked, leading me to ask – as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity – what else was being overlooked in this rush to judgment.”
He said the theft of intellectual property rights from those who create our music and film entertainment is a serious problem that should be addressed in a thorough and intellectually honest way. Up and coming artists all too often find themselves robbed of the fruits of their labor – but a right desire to protect their work should not lead us to rush a bill through Congress.
“We cannot afford to get this wrong. However, the legislation still raises a serious issue about government censorship of the internet and whether some remedies in the current SOPA legislation are overly broad,” he said.
“While I am pleased that our efforts resulted in the removal of the DNS blocking provisions from the bill, the seriousness of this issue warrants further scrutiny. As the DNSSEC issue revealed, the Judiciary Committee lacks sufficient knowledge to continue consideration of SOPA at this time. The process should be opened up and we should hear from a diverse field of witnesses before acting. Those opposed to the remaining provisions of the bill should be heard. Only then will we have a basis for determining whether further action on this legislation is warranted.”