Insurgents vs Incumbents

The startup world is about insurgents. A person or a few people with an idea. And they drop everything and go for it. They are going up against the incumbents and that doesn't just mean the big companies that occupy the market position they want. That means all the people, institutions, and organizations that are in cahoots with the big companies.

This is the framework through which we see the world. And this is the framework through which we would like others to see the world.

It is not the least bit surprising to me that Facebook supports CISPA. Facebook was once an insurgent. But now they are an incumbent. And we can expect them to be supportive of the ultimate incumbent, our government, particularly when it comes to sharing data on all of us with them.

I saw this this on HYV's Tumblr this morning:

Waiting to see if all the VC’s will call for a boycott of Facebook over CISPA like they did content creators on SOPA/PIPA. Or just act like it’s different suddenly.

If there were a boycott of Facebook over this CISPA thing, I'd gladly participate in it. I just don't know if people care enough about this issue to get appropriately annoyed about it. The impact of PIPA/SOPA on the Internet user was easier to understand. Cybersecurity and privacy and data ownership and sharing is much more complicated to understand.

Make no mistake, the incumbents have each others' back. But the Internet users have the insurgents' back. So when the Internet users care enough, the insurgents will win. That's what happened with PIPA/SOPA. It will be interesting to see if it will happen again with CISPA.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Emily Merkle

    Who cares? I do. Who wants to coordinate & do our best to educate, campaign, lobby, etcetc?

    1. fredwilson

      i suspect a lot of people here at AVC care. but what about the general population? i haven’t seen CISPA on the front page of any newspapers yet.

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        I’m not so sure that PIPA/SOPA were easy to understand or that the general population cared. I think that most people will follow whatever their leaders (in a broad meaning, whoever they admire or listen) do. If prominent enough people oppose CISPA, general population will get there too.

        1. leigh

          someone should get the RSA people to do a video explanation of the issues.  Those have huge resonance when it comes to complex issues….

          1. fredwilson

            good idea

          2. Vineeth Kariappa

             Presuming u din like the “glorified image site’s” reason..…, any particular reason for your reaction?

          3. fredwilson

            i didn’t read any reason in that post. i read a bunch of mumbly mouthed nonsense.

          4. Fernando Gutierrez

            Yeah, they are plain amazing! However, it would be needed that once the video is done the Fred Wilsons of the world started twitting and posting links everywhere.

          5. fredwilson

            i would happily do that

          6. leigh

            I think the marketing plan part isn’t that difficult (i mean, a post here would help 🙂 …. it’s getting someone to create the story/storyboards and then create the video …. 

      2. William Mougayar

        There is some coverage. I think your post today will get echoed too…

  2. leigh

    Sometimes I think it’s a secret band of lawyer lobbyists who are behind all these ridiculous pieces of legislation.  I can just see the wringing of their collective hands and moo haw haw hahhhhhhhssss as they look forward to their ever increasing legal hrs/fees …….

  3. Rohan

    We need one of those easy to understand videos that tell us what CISPA means in lay man’s terms

    1. JimHirshfield


    2. BillSeitz

      Just found this page which isn’t horrible, though not great. (And doesn’t even include “CISPA” – great SEO job EFF!)…

    3. Koslow

      It’s no fancy video, but after satisfying my curiosity about CISPA by reading around the internet, I compiled the resources one would need to thoroughly understand what’s going on.  I intentionally kept my own commentary light. Hope it helps!

      1. Rohan


  4. Luke Chamberlin

    Outrage requires a lot of energy. I think PIPA/SOPA depleted the internet’s energy and it will take a while to recover.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m worried that you are right about that

      1. kidmercury

        no need to such a pessimist, fred! the good news is that poverty creates the energy for political will. check the unemployment numbers — looks like lots of political will is on the way! hooray! *claps*



    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      Yes, you can only move people a number of times…

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        And all these bills have so dammed similar names!

        1. BillSeitz

          Actually, that may be a good thing, because it makes it easier to lump them together. Though obviously you have to be careful about making it sound like you think they’re the *exact* same thing, since that kills your credibility. 

          1. Fernando Gutierrez

            Maybe you are right, something like… so here they are, screwing with your internet again… react!

    3. William Mougayar

      I don’t agree. I think we’re just getting started in terms of online advocacy and its effects.SOPA/PIPA showed it can be done.We just need an Early Warning System.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        When you let off steam it takes a while for the pressure to rebuild. I think it’s just human nature.I do think it was a turning point in online advocacy, at least for internet-related issues.

      2. Otto

        Instead of just talking about advocacy we ought to be figuring out ways to end political careers and create fundamental change.

    4. Emily Merkle


  5. William Mougayar

    How do these things creep up so quickly? This Bill is slated for voting on April 23rd!…The argument for it is weak, “government wants to help companies fend off cyberattacks from foreign countries and hackers, but lacks the legal means to do so.”Does the government need a Bill to help fend off cyber attacks, or can they do it without that?

    1. leigh

      They are hoping for fatigue on the part of the people opposing these types of legislation.  It’s similar to Arab Spring.  Everyone was all over the first three of them and then support while still there, was far less active over time.  ps. it’s why being an activist is so exhausting. My ex was a environmental campaigner for WWF for years — after you’ve done it for 10 years it’s hard bc the issues and the lobbyists are like a virus you can’t ever get rid of bc of their vast resources and political interests

      1. Adam_G

        I completely agree. I stood outside of Chuck Schumer’s/Kirsten Gillibrand’s offices, shouting and sign-waving for them to drop their suport of SOPA/PIPA. Now I feel like it was all for naught. Really discouraging. 

        1. ShanaC

          It wasn’t , you got them round one, now this is just round two

      2. William Mougayar

        But with the Internet, social media, the social web and commenting systems, there is hope that the power of Crowd-sourced Online advocacy can defeat them, just as it did with SOPA/PIPA.

        1. Skinner Layne

          If it could be turned into a permanent organization in some way that wields continual influence, then if it were successful in stopping enough legislation, at some point the politicians might venture to consult us, the public, before introducing legislation, rather than after. But it seems like it would have to be a multi-year, sustained “guerrilla”-style political campaign before the establishment would become too wearied to keep trying. The problem is that the public would likely wear out first.

    2. Emily Merkle

      How about:1) define cyber attack2) public / intel is different than private – veryThen worry about next

  6. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    “Insurgents vs Incumbents” is probably the best way to understand everything in life!Its a philosophy…..I think Facebook is more of an “addiction” to the mass population: Its someplace you check in to, sit around in, and just sort of waste time with. Its a habit, kind of like cigarettes.If you want to motivate the Facebook user then promote the idea that CISPA would allow Facebook to charge for access….

    1. Emily Merkle

      Twitter can take it; FB is peaking but still has fucking astronomical time on site

  7. Adam_G

    I had just finished reading a book about the NSA, The Shadow Factory by James Bamford, right before the facebook/CISPA news broke. The book is about how the NSA has strong-arming corporations — first telegraphs, then telecomes, then ISPs — to get the info they need for surveillance. The NSA also has wanted a FB-type network since 1999. I’m not a conspiracy nut, and I actually fully support our clandestine services; I just don’t want to share my information with them if I don’t have to.The resurrection of SOPA in its new incarnation as CISPA makes me feel powerless, like no matter what we do, it will continue to be reborn from the ashes. That being said, I am dropping off of facebook tomorrow. I don’t know if there are any mass movements, but at least I can take an individual stand, and protect (a little bit of) my own privacy.

    1. fredwilson

      what exactly does “dropping off” mean?does it mean not logging inor does it mean deleting your accountor some other action?i am asking because i may join you in your protest

      1. Adam

        It means completely deleting my account. I’m in the process right now of downloading all of my pictures, so that I have those. Between twitter and the other social networks I’m on, I feel well-connected to the friends and influencers I want to connect with. Facebook is just a time-drain, devoid of interesting or informative posts, full of rants and product endorsements.

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t have any photos up thereit wouldn’t cost me much to join you

          1. Adam_G

            I know how radical it seems to not be on facebook in 2012, since “everyone” is on facebook, except for cave-dwelling hermits and other social cast-offs. But I think deleting my account is effective for 2 reasons:1) It sends a (small) message to facebook that I don’t support their policies. When you delete your account, you can say why. I plan on telling them exactly why, and then saying I’d be happy to reinstate my account if they drop their support of CISPA.2) It’s a way of protecting my own identity/information. Regardless of any larger message it may or may not send, it just seems pragmatic.I’m deleting my account at 10 pm on Sunday. Maybe if we get a group of people to delete their account at or around 10 pm tomorrow, it’ll spark some notice in Palo Alto on Monday morning.

          2. fredwilson

            given that they have 800mm users, think we’d need at least a million to delete to even make them notice it

          3. Adam_G

            [This is in reply to “given that they have 800mm users…” Disqus won’t let me reply to it in-line.]I respectfully disagree. I don’t have the numbers, but I’d guess their average rate of attrition (deleted accounts) is pretty low. If a few thousand people dropped off within a 10-minute span, I think it would show up on their radar.

          4. Richard Burton

            I deleted my Facebook account around 6 months ago. Some of my closest friends have started to leave. One recently asked me for some advice on how to do it what it was like after I left. I replied with the following:”Here is the major benefit of leaving Facebook. You replace the time you spent on Facebook with time spent making an effort to stay in touch one-to-one. I now find that instead of browsing the updates of lots of people I barely know I make a concerted effort to find out what’s going on with my friends via IM and email. As a result, I get updates from my friends that they would never put on Facebook. I find out things that could not be gleaned from stalking their profile. That’s the real benefit. In that way, deleting Facebook makes it easier to stay in touch. It forces you to make intimate contact which, after all, is what friendship is all about. A friendship purely maintained through Facebook is on life-support. It’s not real.”He’s now my 5th close friend to leave. We both wonder if we’re seeing a tipping-point within our respective social circles.

          5. ShanaC

            Only one of my close friends has done this, one tried, but all of her actions were linked to facebook through other means so it never worked…..I wish more would move to another platform

          6. sigmaalgebra

            > cave-dwelling hermits and other social cast-offsNow that you are leaving FB, join the rest of us “hermits”, etc. who were way ahead of you and never joined and mostly because it looked like an invasion of privacy, creepy, useless, and a waste of time. Teenage girls can use it for gossip and dreams of getting dates. I’m not a teenage girl and no longer date them. And from some old advice my father gave me, I wouldn’t date a girl with semi-nude pictures on FB. To me, FB looks like a fad. After its IPO, watch carefully and maybe see some short opportunities.

          7. Joshua Cyr

            I quit a little over a year ago.  Deleted.  Every once in a while I find some nonprofit or event who’s data is only on FB and I can’t get access too without a login.  That is a pain.  Such bad brand experience too.Occasionally someone will ask if I saw that ‘funny photo’ or why I didn’t know so and so is engaged.  FB seems to be the main channel for that right now.The other issue that comes up is that many startups/tech sites require FB for signing up, use it for authentication or to pull contacts.  Sometimes they just diminish/hide any other option then having a FB account (google, twitter, etc).  Also frustrating.Still though, there is no downside after that.

          8. ShanaC

            It would for me, I’m active with my alumni group in NY, and not only do they tell you about local events through facebook, they also do some of the planning through facebook.

          9. Emily Merkle

            Zuckerberg has an awesome build and why not try to work with it to serve the users?

          10. Elia Freedman

            One big thing to consider is how many third party apps use Facebook as your log in credentials. (Drives me nuts, by the way, and makes me think twice before using them.)

          11. fredwilson

            words with friends and draw something are the only two i can think of

          12. Brad

            We thought about using this at and after three minutes of discussion we did not want to be tied to fb. Too integrated to too many things.

          13. Modernist

            spotify 🙁

      2. Adrian Sanders

        So I’ve tried this before. Here’s what I’ve learned:  in my particular case, I have a huge extended family all over america (27 cousins… 27!)   when I moved abroad for 3.5 years, I basically fell completely out of touch with all of them.  I can’t do email with them, and they’re not tech savvy enough to do twitter / new things.   it’s messed up that FB owns all my data (yes even when you “delete” it – my CTO was contacted directly after we got press for via an email address in a facebook account he had deleted years ago)    but it really is the social network for the world at the moment.  will I trade my privacy (having them sell to me on stupid crap I”ll never buy anyways) for losing out on connecting with a family that has previously been in accessible? no.   I think it depends on your siutation, and as much as I think FB is shiesty, they provide me with something no one else can, and it’s worth it to me. 

        1. Dale Allyn

          I get that you’re probably not wishing to connect with only your 27 cousins, but alternative channels are not that difficult to develop. E.g. if one of you (of 28) are tech-savvy, putting up a blog that allows members (all 28) to post equally will allow all of the family connections. Expression Engine does this, but the license does not allow for supporting full micro blogging (individual blogs), so watch that caveat. You can create multiple channels though. Permissions allow for memberships, controlled posting privileges, visibility, etc. To clarify, this is software to create and manage your own environment.If what you really want to do is follow actions of a zillion contacts, then it’s not a reasonable alternative. Just playing the devil’s advocate here to illustrate that there are ways to stay in touch, share, without FB – and the environment is likely to be much more sincere. FB is the easy way, but comes with a price (or prices).

          1. Adrian Sanders

            oh I know I can build it. in fact, I’ve set up several lists that make it brainless to share content using a native and obvious vessel (email, for godssake).and yet they won’t use it. the fact is, they’re on facebook and that behavior is seriously entrenched. maybe it’s because they’re catholic? 😉

          2. Dale Allyn

            I do “get it”. People will definitely take the path of least resistance in most cases. I mentioned the option of a “roll your own” solution mostly in hopes of reminding us all we needn’t be sheep. 

    2. Emily Merkle

      One at a time then together without violence / duress / anger

  8. Vineeth Kariappa

     Come on, they are just being themselves. People do what they do, because they want to do what they want to do. Don’t you think it might be better to target the politicians who are trying to pass these laws? Like, not vote for them next time.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Next time maybe too late.

    2. BillSeitz

      Tried voting for change 3yrs ago. Forgot that “more and harder” is a kind of change.

  9. kidmercury

    this issue is so simple, it’s not complicated, but no one wants to believe the simplicity of it. here’s the simple story: there is basically a coup that is going on in the US government to subvert the constitution and replace it with a fascist police state. this coup started with the formation of the OSS which became the CIA. the CIA then imported all the nazi scientists after WWII via an operation known as project paperclip. declassified and admitted, look it up. from there the bureauracies and the national security complex blossomed. we got the national reconaissance office, the national security agency, department of homeland security, fema, darpa, and so much other stuff that no one even knows about. the secret government is out of control and is now coming out into the open. so that is the basic story, subvert the constitution and replace it with fascism. fascism requires total control so there is constantly legislation like this. not enough people know this story and even fewer are willing to believe it. this is also why when people try to lobby for immigration reform they have no chance, because the people that have taken over the government don’t want it. you have to think disruptively and not use the same channels they are using (congress). just like a startup that tries to clone facebook has no chance. they need to find a new dimension, one the market wants that facebook cannot offer, grab an initial foothold, and innovate from there.  likewise, the real solution here is to start a small community of people who care, and build out the solution accordingly. the solution is a world in which you are protected from the emerging fascist government in the US — and in many other parts of the world, as corrupt government is not a new idea nor is it restricted to the US.  all of this is very attainable but requires immense political will, the likes of which are difficult to obtain without poverty. the US revolution did not get under way until the currency act of 1764 robbed the colonies via manipulation of the money supply (i.e. price inflation). always the same scam and always the same outcome, just updated with modern technology. the sooner we find the political will the easier this whole process becomes and the sooner we get back to building real innovations and creating real prosperity rather than dealing with stupid legislation. a revolution does not mean war, even if you like that idea you do not stand a chance against the military industrial complex. what they are afraid of is the truth and that is your weapon, and also the weapon the internet is most skilled at utilizing. ignorance is futile. only the truth can set us free. 9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      What do you think of the off-shore “startup ships” in international waters?

      1. fredwilson

        my partner Brad is on his way to Iceland this weekend to see if it can be a beneficiary of the internet freedom movement

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          Very interesting! I see those “free layover in Iceland” ads on the NYC subway and I’ve always wanted to visit.I recently had a friend sent back to his country of origin because of an expired visa. He was here working on a startup. Now he’s doing the exact same job working for the exact same startup but paying taxes to his home country instead of spending money here. It doesn’t make sense.If I understand your comment correctly, maybe the internet industry replaces banking in Iceland?

          1. fredwilson

            yup. they also have incredibly cheap power because of thermal energy (i think that’s the reason). my partner Brad has been doing a lot of work on this.

          2. Luke Chamberlin

            How is the broadband?

          3. fredwilson

            i will let you know when Brad gets back

          4. kidmercury

            yes, iceland has geothermal…..helps greatly to be near volcanoes for that……a good excuse to move to hawaii!

          5. ShanaC

            yeah, but we don’t know yet what it does to the stability of the ground….

          6. leigh

            I hear they want to be come part of Canada.  Fingers crossed 🙂

          7. fredwilson


          8. leigh

            sorta if we follow the money :)…

          9. matthughes

            I hope your friend can come back some day.

        2. BillSeitz

          I was just thinking a CharterCity might be a good player.

      2. kidmercury

        i didnt know about that — that sounds fantastic! i’m a big believer in the floating cities stuff. there are also companies that have started mining the ocean for minerals, i think there are ways to combine those two ideas. 

      3. matthughes

        That’s where the big white sharks live.Instead of requiring a visa, they just eat you.

    2. LE

      “the CIA then imported all the nazi scientists after WWII via an operation known as project paperclip. declassified and admitted, look it up. “Oy vey. The idea was to prevent the soviets from getting them.  Don’t make such a big tsimis about it.

      1. kidmercury

        well, you can believe that if you’d like…..though i suggest viewing things in a historical context. project paperclip led to the “nazi-fication” of the CIA; over the course of the 60s the CIA adopted all the nazi techniques, most notable the wide umbrella of mind control projects under MK ULTRA. mk as in mind control, the “k” being a reference to the germanic spelling…….but as i stated in my original comment no amount of evidence, government admissions, social network analysis, can convince the disbelievers — and of course the believers are equally difficult to shake. in time the truth prevails…..

        1. LE

          led to the “nazi-fication” of the CIA; over the course of the 60s the CIA adopted all the nazi techniquesWhat people need to understand is that any decision has both pros and cons. Like taking a medication. You weigh the benefits vs. potential future problems. With that thinking my conclusion is that, and this is not an acknowledgement that what you are saying is correct (“nazi-fication” of the CIA) , that it is better overall that they didn’t fall into the hands of the soviets.

          1. kidmercury

            i don’t agree with that view, but sure, let’s say the big bad soviets were going to get us and kill us all if we didn’t bring all 700 nazi scientists into the US and put them in the intelligence community. even if that is true, it doesn’t change that the nazis have taken over and implemented their ideology and protocols. so of course we get stuff like CISPA and all the other garbage. if we don’t acknowledge what has happened we are not going to solve the problem and are going to constantly be on the defensive, reacting to their legislation, rather than being proactive and building the environment we want. 

          2. LE

            @kidmercury:disqus this is being reduced down to an “reductio ad Hitlerum”… or variant.My dad, a camp survivor worked for the OSS after the war by the way as I’ve mentioned.

          3. kidmercury

            how is this being reduced to “reductio ad hitlerium”? i think it is being reduced to “reductio ad sovietum”…..there is an abundance of information that can be provided to support the notion that a nazi takeover has occurred. you can reject it all if you’d like, as most people do. then we will all sit around wondering why government sucks so much, continues to propose such bad legislation, and keep voting for the same people over and over again. the same thing happens every time though, only a small group of people are actually supportive of a revolution and that’s all it takes. everyone else comes along for the victory lap after the risk has been removed and there are no other options. 

          4. LE

            The difference is our perspectives comes from the difference in what we do. I operate multiple systems and have to make sure they are secure for the benefit of our customers. This has been going on for almost 17 years. Not a second goes by when someone isn’t attempting to scan the system (and yes I know that happens with your local broadband connected PC as well), or trying to hack into and take over a computer on our network, or using a stolen credit card to purchase something (in which case we not only get the chargeback but also a $35 additional charge from the processor.) Do you know how many hours I spend per week on security?  So from my perspective the government isn’t doing enough to stop this so I can sympathize with the incumbents point of view and what they deal with.

          5. fredwilson

            i understand the need for security. but do you feel it is right to share the information on your clients with the government if they ask? should they be required to get a warrant to get that info?

          6. kidmercury

            LE sure, i don’t doubt that you work in security and are far more qualified to comment on that than i am. i am not a networking security guy. however you believe government CAN do something and WANTS to do something. i do not think history is on your side in this regard. i do believe “multiple internets” makes the web safer, although i dislike safety arguments because of much they are abused. i prefer usabilty arguments. multiple internets is basically what hte US government is saying is needed, and why they want to implement a china-style Internet. that’s fine, i would just prefer to see other organizations roll their own internet. that way folks can choose to live in USANet or AmazonNet or whatever. i’ll take bezos over the nazis.  

          7. raycote

            Isn’t it funny how that old:”the ends justifies the means”thing never seems to work out very well!

          8. Emily Merkle

            Why hash it out again? Semantics. Keep it private whatever your private is.

        2. JLM

          Not right on that one, Kid.The CIA in that time period was completely dominated by the Ivy League (Princeton, Yale) cabal.The paramilitary functions of the CIA were looking to be what military special operations has evolved into — immediate military reaction to actionable battlefield/field intelligence by organic forces — in Afghanistan.The CIA had a lot of issues but Nazification was not one of them. You are completely right on the Nazi rocket scientists.

          1. kidmercury

            yes, the ivy league crowd did kick start the OSS/CIA, and you could argue there are nazi roots there, although that is harder to  support without going into deep conspiracy stuff so i try to focus on post-paperclip. paperclip started in 1945, by 1947 the CIA was formed and by 1952 the NSA came on board. eisenhower saw what was happening and tried to warn against it in his military industrial complex speech; kennedy comes in, understands it after bay of pigs, threatens to dismantle the CIA and issues national security memorandum 57 which was supposed to remove all military capabilities of the CIA, who had begun overthrowing regimes in the 50s starting with operation ajax. the CIA kills kennedy which truly cements the coup. no more real space exploration, non-stop war, end of gold as a monetary asset, etc. bush sr, whose nazi ties have already been documented — i know we disagree on this, here’s a link for those interested…  — becomes director of CIA in the early 70s. as we know he then becomes vice-president and then president. that offers a bit of timeline and an illustration of the nazi takeover. i prefer to simply observe the similarities between the US police and the nazi one, the policies they used, how they created it, etc. 

          2. Dale Allyn

            Wow…I like salsa on my tacos, and chilies in my Thai food… and I like a little Kid in my A VC,… but… sometimes they can get a bit spicy. 😉

          3. matthughes

            “…that is harder to support without going into deep conspiracy stuff…”I’m curious to hear you ‘finally’ get into some deep conspiracy stuff….

          4. JLM

            Interesting rant, you hit some high notes that very few people know anything about.As to the CIA overthrowing other governments — right on the money.  That is exactly the rub point.  They were doing it all over the world.As to GHW Bush and the Bush’s in general being deep — lots of circumstantial evidence but no truth.  The former Senator was an investment banker to legitimate German interests far before WWII.  Before Hitler’s rise.GHWB was the best prepared President, maybe in history.  But it was all happenstance.Eisenhower’s famous “beware the MI complex” speech was aimed at procurement issues in the Pentagon having lorded over the creation and growth of the American nuclear arsenal — BTW also balancing 8 straight budgets and not one $ of deficit spending.He was right.  Today the MI complex has the voting power of about 20 states and more on a lobbying dollar weighted basis.  It is a dangerous spending constituency.Nobody likes a good little war like the MI complex.Drones anyone?Drones may make the Air Force Academy obsolete before this is all done.

          5. sigmaalgebra

            > The CIA in that time period was completely dominated by the Ivy League (Princeton, Yale) cabal.Also my impression.

      2. raycote

        “The idea was to prevent the soviets from getting them”That’s nice but either way we still end up with the unintended consequences of absorbing that negative, nazi, anti-democratic mindset into a bureaucratic culture of government control structures!

    3. LE

      likewise, the real solution here is to start a small community of people who care, and build out the solution accordingly.Sounds like a commune. I can’t deal with people who don’t shower though so that’s not for me.

      1. kidmercury

        AVC is a small community. given your active participation here, it seems like it is for you. perhaps i did not communicate clearly enough, though there is no need for anyone to physically re-locate their body under the view i espouse (though others favor that, and perhaps it will work). this goes back to our multiple internets conversation. start with a small internet; if you’ve ever worked in an office or have networked computers in your home, you already have your own small internet. chances are you got to take a good shower too!

    4. JLM

      Having been around many of the folks that you describe I must disagree in an odd way — you are limiting their subversion to only the Constitution when in reality it is much more fundamental and overarching but much, much, much simpler.There is an element of the intelligentsia and illuminati in America today who believe that no law ever crafted limits their power to do exactly what they want about anything.Once they have the power, they do not even intend to battle the Constitution — they simply intend to ignore it.And do exactly what they think should be done without consultation with anyone.Take a look at Obamacare, the UN, the Federal Reserve, the Stimulus, Fast & Furious, the Lehman v Merrill treatment — these guys think they can do anything and not be held accountable.Three very simple examples:On Sunday, Lehman goes into the hospice treatment; and, on Monday Merrill has a bon voyage party. Not even 24 hours between them and one dies and the other thrives. Old Wall Street scores being settled up with a sharp knife.Fast & Furious — the government allows illegal gun sales, gun “walking” into Mexico into the hands of the cartels, the death of a government employee with the same illegal guns and nobody is accountable.GSA party — a bunch of mid-level government bureaucrats decide to have a Hawaiian party, make you pay for it and when asked to account for their actions by Congress defy them and take the 5th Amendment. Huh?The Fifth Freakin’ Amendment to their employers? Huh?A government employee spends taxpayer money on himself and when asked to account for it says — No. And will not even be fired.

      1. LE

        GSA party — a bunch of mid-level government bureaucrats decide to have a Hawaiian party, make you pay for it and when asked to account for their actions by Congress defy them and take the 5th Amendment. Huh?So this appears to be the story of record that started this entire thing:http://www.huffingtonpost.c…And this is apparently the smoking gun:Among the report’s findings, GSA spent $95 per person for a dinner reception at the M Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, Nev.; $75,000 on a bike-building training exercise (the bikes were later donated to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club); $19 per person for an “American artisanal cheese display;” $7,000 in sushi; $3,200 for mind reader; $3,700 for T-shirts; and more than $2,500 on water bottles. There are also some silly clips (which I haven’t watched) the purpose being to whip everybody up in a frenzy over this whole thing.So let’s go over this one by one:$95 per person for a dinner reception. I don’t find that outrageous at all. Have you ever planned a wedding or bat/bar mitzvah?$75,000 on a bike building training exercise. Dollar amount is irrelevant without knowing how many people were involved or what exactly they did. Even then we would have to assume that this is a rate that is currently paid by someone (a corporation) on team building exercises. I’m not a fan of team building exercises but apparently corporations see value in them.$19 per person for an “American artisanal cheese display;” – And the problem with this is?Misc: $7,000 in sushi; $3,200 for mind reader; $3,700 for T-shirts; and more than $2,500 on water bottles. So in other words you ask employees to take a trip (which you pay for) and be away from their families (or for all I know you could take your family) and they are supposed to a) not have any fun b) go to some mediocre place c) still want to attend the event?This is the typical type of one sided story that makes news and pulls at the heartstrings of everybody. 

        1. JLM

          Uhh, I think the fundamental question is this — why?Why is the GSA having a party? Why?Why are they having a dinner reception of any type? Why?Why are they spending taxpayer money on something like the bike building training exercise? Why?The mind reader? No restraint of any kind at all. Why?Are taxpayer funds simply funds that can be spent for anything? No restraint of any kind? We add to the deficit for artisan cheese trays?It is pure nonsense.

          1. LE

            “Why is the GSA having a party? Why?”The idea is to get people away from the office and try to get some behavioral change that will create a benefit to the organization in some way.  This then progresses so  that by spending an amount of money (and I don’t know their total budget but I would assume that $800k isn’t a large amount compared to what they spend) they will achieve this benefit. As I said I’m not a fan but I’m not an expert on team building either. People in a manic happy mood being fed and or entertained are probably more likely to pay attention and learn something than those forced to sit in a room being told the same thing in a dull environment.  I’m very fair and realistic about all of this. If I was on your board I’d be the one allowing you to get the private jet and fly around not the person wanting you to be stingy and fly coach. 

          2. JLM

            As an owner of 5MM shares, I am the guy who uses my own plane and leaves at 5:00 AM and gets home at 9:00 PM and gets two days of work in a single day.Team building is not what is going on here — this is just the government spending taxpayer money in a frivolous manner.Times are bad and frugality and accountability are important concepts to underpin success.This is all just nonsense.

          3. LE

            “This is all just nonsense.”It’s important to know the complete story and we don’t have that here. We have hyperbolic news reports, a rush to judgement, and a general “where there’s smoke there’s fire” attitude about government waste. This of course may prove true after further investigation.  If things were that simple, and we could believe what we read, we wouldn’t need trials that can sometimes stretch for months and jury deliberation.The media just loves to write about lavish opulent parties and people using wording to build a populist story that whips people up into a lather. Even the story about the secret service detail that was sent home from columbia because of prostitutes that broke yesterday. First story made it sound like they were all involved, second story says 1 person was involved and two supervisors covered up etc. The story will change over time. After an investigation we will know the true facts.As far as your airplane that could be presented by a writer as a necessity, an extravagance, or a smart move that brings value to your company depending on which angle they were taking and if they wanted to do a hit job on you.

          4. JLM

            It is my plane. I pay for it. The company does not pay for it.I use it for my personal convenience and efficiency.It makes sense because I own a big chunk of the company and I am all about making the company successful.I will get paid back when I go to the Pay Window.

          5. Aaron Klein

            This is a fundamental misunderstanding of different kinds of money.I may be libertarian minded but I think there is an important role for government to play and you have to have taxes to have a government.But for the eight years that I have served in public office, I have felt a sacred responsibility to those taxpayer dollars, knowing that at least some of them have likely been collected by the seizure and auction of the home of someone who was broke and unemployed.Step away from my public role, and as a CEO, I have a serious responsibility to use shareholder money wisely, but I can have a slightly more expansive view of how to do that. And it could involve parties and events to build the team, or build connections with key partners and customers.You can do that with money that is earned in a way that you should never do with money that is taxed.

          6. matthughes

            Which public office do you hold?

          7. Aaron Klein

            I was elected twice as a trustee for my local community college. This is my eighth year.

          8. matthughes

            That’s cool, good for you.Schools need leadership from the business community.

          9. Aaron Klein

            Thanks. I agree. It’s been great experience serving on the other side of the table as a board member and a board chair.

          10. Aaron Klein

            If you want to fly on private jets and have sushi parties, go work in the productive economy, EARN IT and have at it.You don’t get to pay for that with money that is “legally confiscated” via taxation.Do you realize that if you are broke and unemployed, the government can seize and sell your house to collect the taxes on it?You don’t do private jets and sushi parties with that money.

        2. kidmercury

          the government is 15.5 trillion in debt — and counting. largest budget deficit ever and counting. do you think an organization 15.5 trillion in debt should be going on parties? or do you think they should be downsizing, and cutting expenses?it is remarkable how different people’s attitudes are towards governments versus startups when both organizations still have the task of efficiently getting stuff done. if there was a startup with the type of balance sheet the US government has, no investor would touch it. yet defending government spending and calling for more of it is quite common. 

          1. LE

            “do you think an organization 15.5 trillion in debt should be going on parties? or do you think they should be downsizing, and cutting expenses?”I think they should be spending prudently at all times and evaluating what they get for the money while keeping money for the future. Obviously.We have a surplus in our building because of the money saved on not needing snow removal this year. And just a few minutes ago one of my neighbors wanted to know if we could spend that money on landscaping and planting flowers to improve his image in his patients eyes and make the complex look nicer. I’d rather save the money for the storm that might come next year.

          2. Emily Merkle

            How about party some downsize some and plan? Change?The balance sheet of a start up on the NASDAQ is no less critical to this world’s economy than this country’s. Breathe.

          3. kidmercury

            i’m a little old fashioned and have a “no partying if you have trillions missing” rule. guess no partying for the feds, according to my preferred rule book……

        3. ShanaC

          You could make a kosher wedding (with meat) for less than $95/head in new york, including the wedding premium. These costs are huge. $3,700 for t-shirts? We used to make t-shirts in college all the time, they never cost that much.And this is without being mediocre. Yes, these costs are too much.

          1. LE

            “for less than $95/head in new york,”Ok, how much less? $80 a head or $25 a head? At what venue? Note that the $95 per head doesn’t mention what is included or not in that price. It just repeats a number that appeared somewhere else. “$3,700 for t-shirts?”How many t-shirts? What kind of t-shirts? Maybe they were polo shirts printed 3 colors front 1 color back? “We used to make t-shirts in college all the time, they never cost that much.”College kids also drink beer until 4am out of solo cups. I used to be in the printing business and wrote a program for estimating. I wouldn’t even venture to judge what is appropriate or not pricing wise without knowing the full details of the project. (And in the web business this is a common annoyance by the way, a customer calling and wanting to know “how much will a website cost to build?”. The answer of course, like the price of a private plane such as @JLM:disqus flies or an apartment in NYC is “it depends”.

          2. ShanaC

            i think $65 a head is much more reasonable, and why are they getting polo shirts? major law firms give out regular t-shirts, what is so special about the government that they get a polo shirt?

      2. kidmercury

        yes, i agree — i simply used the constitution to simplify things a bit. in reality i think they are anti-human, anti-liberty, anti-letting people pursue their dreams……it is a type of love of power that is inconceivable to most peoplethey’ve basically already won….just look at how big and secretive government is, how much of a parasite it is……it is completely incompetent at anything besides creating a police state.  

        1. Emily Merkle

          No. We can do this and it is worth it. It can be. We can do better. I can outline how. My thoughts.

        2. JLM

          it is so unfair of you, kid, to use the word COMPETENCE.  What are you some kind of a kook?The incompetence of the government is beyond belief.Being charitable it is not the exclusive domain of THIS administration though they have certainly won the Oscar.

          1. JamesHRH

            LOL.Easiest types of organizations to take over:1) political2) business3) religious4) non-profit / volunteerThe key is to look at motivation & cynicism level.

    5. raycote

      Well said!

    6. sigmaalgebra

      Largely agree. I made some similar remarks in…on this thread before reading this post of yours.Fully agree with your> corrupt government is not a new idea nor is it restricted to the USfrom which I don’t really blame the OSS or CIA for getting these problems started.As in my post, I largely agree with your solutions. For a little more, an irony, or a Darwinian aspect, of the Internet is that one of its best powers is its ability to protect itself. In particular, CISPA stands “to back into an Internet buzz saw”.Until this buzz saw situation gets totally clear to everyone, lobbyists will continue to get fees from various special interests for pushing stuff to attack the Internet.I don’t see that CISPA is high on the usual agenda of the White House. Then the White House should be reluctant to sign such a bill because it would make one more terrific campaign video starting on Labor Day. That is, attacking the Internet, full time mothers, successful people, Wall Street, banks, our coal fired electric generating plants, our oil industry, and our health care system is not a winning play for Obama.

    7. Otto

      The State wants civilians to be transparent, while claiming privilege and privacy for itself.

      1. kidmercury

        quite right…..for our own protection of course…..anyone who disagrees is a terrorist……

    8. Emily Merkle

      you are free. we are all free. no worries, and it is all good.

  10. JamesHRH

    It takes a special kind of person to go from insurgent to incumbent, mentally, before they are 30.

      1. JamesHRH

        No, I had not. Bang on & funny.Although, you know, the guy knows his PR – for sure, at least 750M of his users don’t want to see him in a big boy collar anytime soon!From my point of view, and I am not judging this negatively, it requires an expectation of becoming the incumbent, as the insurgent, to make this kind of sure footed move.Most people would call it arrogance. Great sport psychologists call it the GOAT mindset.

    1. Skinner Layne

      Thus why most insurgents are more comfortable exiting their start-ups and beginning again rather than trying to make the transition and oversee the long-term scaling of an organization. Though one must wonder if sustained incumbency doesn’t require a sort of double-minded approach. Jobs seemed to be such an outstanding success because he was insurgent and incumbent at the same time, at least for the past 10 years or so.

      1. fredwilson

        interesting point about Jobs

      2. JamesHRH

        @fredwilson:disqus he was an awesome incumbent in his second act because he got his head handed to him in the first.

    2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      …ah, the race to the “pay window” has a remarkable way of “aging” young people!

    3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      Lets not forget that Facebook just won a lawsuit where its advertisers were not allowed to seek “class action” status:

  11. Luke Chamberlin

    I thought this was relevant:”Entire Facebook Staff Laughs As Man Tightens Privacy Settings”…

    1. fredwilson

      its so funny because it is so true

      1. Vineeth Kariappa

        Why do you hate them? Can’t you just let them be?

        1. Cam MacRae

          Why do you think the Borg needs a white knight?

          1. Luke Chamberlin

            7 of 850,000,000

          2. Vineeth Kariappa

            After you get 850 mill. people dancing to your tunes, i’ll answer that.

          3. Cam MacRae


          4. Vineeth Kariappa

            Whatever u say 🙂

          5. Cam MacRae


          6. raycote

            Is that some kind of new standard?”Crowd Sourced Validity”

        2. raycote

          Let us not confuse realism with hate!Or were you being sarcastic?

          1. Vineeth Kariappa




        1. laurie kalmanson

          this. ny mag has a good profile of bill maher this week.

    2. ShanaC

      sometimes I think the onion is truer than real life…

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        The best satire always is.

        1. ShanaC

          it starts being bitter at that point, and I don’t appreciate the bitterness.

      2. laurie kalmanson

        the onion long ago left satire behind for prophecy

        1. ShanaC


  12. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    SOPA was sloppy legislation and very easy to attack. CISPA is much more sophisticated. Where as SOPA looked like a gift to the entertainment industry CISPA is worded to appeal to “making us safer” which of course appeals to “national defense” and thus is “acceptable” to the mass population.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      Safety is the most overused excuse ever.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        It sure is but it works every time! the Cold War, the Domino Theory, the Patriot Act, the Afghan and Iraq Wars, it just goes on and on….Its why government never gets any smaller….

    2. kidmercury

      very true……it also reveals who was behind SOPA to begin with…..

    3. Elia Freedman

      This raises an interesting question: was SOPA just a front to get CISPA passed? In any negotiation you ask for things you are willing to give up so you can get what you really want by “giving in” on the things you don’t.

    4. raycote

      “national defense”If that was of any importance they would at least try to fix the banking system!

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        They did/are: It was called TARP and QE 1, QE 2, and QE 3…..

        1. sigmaalgebra

          It’s just crucial to understand that there was TARP from Paulson and W and then TARP II via the Dodd-Frank bill and Obama.  The two were very, very different. The first was mostly just short term loans to stop some bank runs, and the second was much like Solyndra.

    5. Emily Merkle

      You know the media outlets are at the table let them speak and find a compromosise if you can. If you can recognize the “tricky” wording then you are like all a Mass Population member!

  13. Skinner Layne

    Facebook’s support of CISPA may or may not be inherently in its own market-oriented self-interest, I simply do not know. But as they watch the Justice Department harass Apple for anti-trust issues, they must at least be thinking to themselves that cooperation with the Feds’ desires might buy them a pass the next time DOJ needs a headline. 

    1. Emily Merkle

      Where is the legislation posted?

      1. Dale Allyn

        One version is here, in the DocStoc frame:…That’s the link provided by Brandon Burns.Edit to add: This article at the EFF has links in the first paragraph to the bills at the Library of Congress. Bill Seitz provided the link to the EFF article.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Let’s paraphrase:”I’m a friend of the Administration.  If you will grant my friend a special favor, then he will be grant you his undying friendship.  The favor is that he wants your support for the CISPA bill.  In return, you are about to have some DoJ anti-trust issues, and my friend can make them go away. You could also have some EPA, IRS, and union issues, and he can make those go away also.”Clear enough?

  14. Cam MacRae

    That Facebook even has a Vice President-U.S. Public Policy more or less says it all.

    1. William Mougayar


    2. Sandy

      Yes, and more so, it’s perhaps inevitable when one looks at the person that Zuck and Sandberg chose to hire to make these decisions four years ago. Ted Ullyot, FB’s general counsel is not a tech guy.  Instead, Ullyot was, among other things, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez’s Chief of Staff at the Justice Department.  Among the stains on that tenure as AG before Gonzalez was chased out of Washington in disgrace– and the many abuses of power — was warrantless wiretapping, firing of prosecutors for political reasons, and lying to Congress.  Ullyot was the “heavy” instructed by Gonzalez to steamroll other senior DOJ folks to push through the various infamous torture memos.  Before his Chief of Staff tenure, while at the White House, Ullyot was involved in the aftermath of the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name.I’m still amused and disgusted when FB’s PR flack at the time of Ted’s hiring said his hire proves we are “grownups” or something like that.  I wonder where someone with that mindset guides facebook when issues of user privacy and governmental cooperation come up!

    3. JamesHRH

      That’s just learning from history.MS ignored government because they thought they were irrelevant. Costly mistake.

      1. Cam MacRae

        Oh I’d go further and say that it’s the only rational choice. But that misses the point.

  15. Brandon Burns

    I’m not sure the “if the incumbents like it, you shouldn’t” argument is as inspiring as it could be. If I were to try to generate another Tech Spring, I’d beef up the anti-incumbent sentiment with a concrete, specific “this is exactly how CISPA negatively affects me” example from the bill itself… and then tie that back to poor behavior on the incumbents’ part. Your support base will always rally. As for the masses, it’s hard to motivate them to throw stones at someone (or Facebook) without facts and reasons. Unless you’re a Republican telling evangelicals to throw stones at liberals and, well, that’s not exactly a good example to follow.

    1. Brandon Burns

      sweet article on the specific positives and negatives:…In order for a company to be held accountable for violating your privacy, they “have to know there is a risk that the harm to you will outweigh the benefits to them.”Now that’s something I can rally behind, and I’m sure others can. How many times has Facebook invaded your privacy and then said “oops, we weren’t thinking of it in that way!” Or said a change in their privacy policy may be annoying for some individuals, but creates better a better experience for the aggregate. Now they’d get a free pass to do both of these over and over again. That’s awful… and motivating. 

      1. fredwilson

        are you surprised?

        1. Brandon Burns

          appalled and disappointed, but not surprised i guess.what’s sad is that i bet that clause wasn’t even the government’s doing. the incumbents probably threw that in. all of this has given me an idea for how to put the power to change it in the people’s hands. too bad my tech cofounder is buried in work for our own product. if any avc developers are up for a weekend hack project to try and set right some of these wrongs, you’ve got a ux designer with an idea and photoshop ready to go! email me: s.b.burns at gmail dt com

    2. BillSeitz

      just found this infographic:…

    3. Emily Merkle

      No money without the people. Don’t piss off the people. Unless they will be unsafe.

  16. William Mougayar

    It’s ironic that the Internet is such a bottoms-up, people-centric, democratic, crowd-sourced kind of a network,- yet its laws are being shaped by the few that claim to understand it but don’t use it.Facebook is so two-faced on that CISPA bill. They support it on one hand, but they also say “…we will safeguard our users’ private information, just as we do today.” So, which is it?

    1. Cam MacRae

      I took “…we will safeguard our users’ private information, just as we do today.” to be a threat, not a promise. Facebook have form here.

      1. Emily Merkle

        Why a threat? How does Facebook win?

        1. Cam MacRae

          When it is expedient Facebook have a loose, adaptive definition of “safeguard”. Hence a promise to carry the practices of today into the future shouldn’t be any form of reassurance.

    2. Emily Merkle

      To use means lots. On many levels. I use tools that work together – DISQUS/Tumblr/FB/Klout/ and I am in control of the message from my fingers to my Mac. I know where I want it to go. I know where it is supposed to go. In the middle is kinda messy, I have determined,

    3. falicon

      That is pretty much U.S. Government in a nutshell too…

  17. William Mougayar

    We should have a new bill called LTIA.LEAVE THE INTERNET ALONE.Your votes?

    1. Vineeth Kariappa

      My vote for for the best “statement” ever.

      1. William Mougayar

        With a 100 votes, we can probably get it passed by the end of the day!

    2. laurie kalmanson

      world’s shortest piece of legislation?i’ve been threatening for years to write a diet book; it’s the same length:exercise, don’t eat crap

      1. matthughes

        Can I get an advanced copy?That’s awesome.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          lol here you go. exercise, don’t eat crap

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. laurie kalmanson


          3. William Mougayar

            You’re pushing your luck, and jumping to conclusions 🙂

          4. laurie kalmanson

            xlent workout plan right there

          5. laurie kalmanson

            appendix 2: see appendix 1

          6. matthughes

            I now have a first edition, the first addition. 🙂

          7. laurie kalmanson

            here, i’ll autograph it for you: lk.

    3. Reykjavik

      Of course, the free market has a great history of protecting the rights of intellectual property owners and privacy of consumers without intervention. Adam Smith rulez!

  18. Tom Labus

    Knocking off SIPA/SOPA was probably an anomaly in the system, a fluke.You get what you pay for and we all know that.

  19. Rocky Agrawal

    In fairness to incumbents, if I had to pick one thing that destroyed SOPA, it was Google taking a strong position on it and changing their home page, which has enormous reach. … It has more reach than any TV or newspaper outlet in the U.S. (Excluding special events like the Super Bowl.)I had actually called on Google to take a bold move against it a few days earlier:…Without Google’s action, we would probably be living with SOPA. (Yes, Wikipedia and reddit had blackouts, but reddit was preaching to the choir and Wikipedia doesn’t have as much reach as Google.)What I liked is that Google was kind of acting against its own interests. It has the muscle to negotiate with Hollywood, in both audience and legal resources. It stood up for insurgents who can develop new products that could disrupt its audience. It was Google acting like the idealistic Google I remember.

    1. fredwilson

      google is one of the incumbents that still has some insurgent left in their DNA. it comes out sometimes.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        It’s apart of their strategy. There’s opportunity when there are incumbents to be disrupted, eg: Google+ to compete with Facebook. Google+ may and could use disrupting as well though; It’s not the end all, though they if they’re smart and not abusive then users will be happy to use them if other options exist.

    2. Emily Merkle

      Props where props are due

    3. William Mougayar

      That was a great post Rocky. Right on.

    4. JamesHRH

      They are not a media content producer incumbent.If they owned a library of content that had been cranking our billions pre-web, they would have taken a different stand.Try passing a bill that states that says that web pages are private property and unauthorized access for commercial purposes is subject to a $1500 fine, per instance.Larry will get his incumbent on then.

  20. Morgan Warstler

    Start a campaign, call it Facebook is stalking me , and accusing of it of being a “cybersecurity threat,” which is “degrading the network.”Take all the vague scary sounding things the bill does and accuse Facebook of violating them.Auto-send complaints to SEC, and force FB to treat it as a disclosure.

    1. Emily Merkle

      On it.

  21. Randy Meech

    A little while ago I adapted Sopatrack to work for all bills in Congress. I wanted to see how money impacted the bills & the congresspeople behind them.Here’s CISPA:…Here’s Mike Rogers, CISPA’s sponsor:…

    1. fredwilson

      awesome work Randy!

    2. Howard Brooks

       This is fantastic. Thanks Randy!

    3. laurie kalmanson

      this is awesome. opencongress is a good tool, too…

    4. Otto

      So if politicians are for sale should we start buying them?

      1. JLM

        If it flies, float, fornicates or votes — RENT it.

        1. JamesHRH

          The single greatest piece of financial advice ever given to anyone who come into wealth.Hand down, bar none.Own your plane though, right JLM?

          1. JLM

            That plane is going on the block on Monday. You got me.

    5. sigmaalgebra

      Nice data!Now, let me see:  If the bill does not pass, doesRepresentative John Boehner (R) return the $692,865?Hmm …. I suspect not!So, if the bill passes in the House but Boehner whispers to Reid that the bill should fail in the Senate, then lots of House Members got some six figure campaign donations without actually doing anything to the Internet.I mean, after PIPA/SOPA failed, did the Members of Congress give back the money?Sounds like a fairly obvious way to raise campaign money.

      1. Modernist

        If you wanted to bribe a politician, would you bribe one who often took money and didn’t get bills passed?

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Sometimes!  It’s a ‘supply chain’!  So, there are the House Members who need campaign funding.  Then there are lobbyists who want to get certain laws passed and can direct some campaign funding.  Then there are organizations with money who want to get certain laws passed. So, the lobbyists “play both ends against the middle”, encourage the organizations to go for it and then get the House Members to appear to do something. Currently lobbyists, even ones who don’t know DNS from GPS, can run around and find organizations with thick checkbooks who are afraid of “the Internet” ‘disruption’ and get checks written.Then your point about “often” is important!  But, the organizations that are the real sources of the money, just from the nice list with the URL here, apparently have not all paid much attention to “often” yet!  Since that’s been the case for about 200 years, the lobbyists seem to have a good gig going!Still, right, at times the whole game can get seriouis with actual laws getting passed.  How to know?  It’s tough to know!  E.g., there was a chance for PIPA/SOPA.  Maybe also for CISPA.  Tough to know.  But even if Boehner knows, he might not be telling!  He’s got over 600,000 reasons of his own not to tell with many more similar reasons from other R House Members!So, the politicians say, “Bad laws might get passed.  To get ‘access’ in advance, write a check.”  So, the politicians are making everyone else an offer they can’t refuse!  Politics 101!  “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”. 

      2. Randy Meech

        Here’s a great “This American Life” episode on how this works: http://www.thisamericanlife…

        1. sigmaalgebra

          I just listened. It was fun but not surprising.It had a lot of the usual ‘liberal media bias’ but was likely correct on the basic facts.”Liberal”? I’d like to be, and I really don’t like “conservatism”, but at this point for me the ‘liberals’ we have now have gone just nuts into grotesque incompetence on just crucial, practical issues.One theme in the audio clip was new to me: Often, maybe, usually, the first contact about money is from the politician, not the lobbyist or business organization that wants a favor. In simple terms, the politician is doing a ‘shakedown’ on the business organization that wants a favor instead of the business asking for the best politicians money can buy!Good to see that basically in both ethics and practical effectiveness the business people are way ahead of the politicians. Not too tough to be ahead of many of the politicians!In particular, supposedly a House Member needs $1-2 million per campaign. Okay, if he’s a really bright guy, then he should consider just making $100 million in the private economy and then funding his own campaigns.

    6. Donna Brewington White

      This got my tweet.

    7. Koslow

      This is great! Included the link in my blogpost.… 

    8. Dave W Baldwin

      Thanks…see my Congresswoman Emerson is in support.  Actually there are a lot of supporters… this needs attention.

  22. Howard Brooks

    “f there were a boycott of Facebook over this CISPA thing, I’d gladly participate in it. I just don’t know if people care enough about this issue to get appropriately annoyed about it.”Never thought of you as a follower, Fred. The question is – Do you care enough about the issue? Are you appropriately annoyed about it?

    1. fredwilson

      i’m a reluctant leader on this issue because while i smell a rat i have never invested the time into the cybersecurity issues to feel like i am equipped to lead on them

      1. Cam MacRae

        I assume you read the draft bill? The definition of cybersecurity therein is… ahem… expansive.Edit: Just read the new House Intelligence Committee draft. The definition of what constitutes a cybersecurity threat has been constrained sufficiently that it’s unlikely the bill could be used for backdoor enforcement of intellectual monopoly. Better.

    2. Emily Merkle

      Chill. People. If you have put in time here you sound desperate at this juncture. Boycott yourself. Annoyance is neither ever appropriate nor is there critical mass. If that makes Fred a follower then I am behind him – and Fred nor anyone has espoused a position, I advocated that we as leaders Educate Ourselves first. Period.

  23. NilB

    I think most people are not aware of CISPA. While PIPA/SOPA were on the news for so long (in internet time), this initiative is rather new to most people. I hope we will your roar again against this. I guess the most concerning part here it is open to too many interpretations. 

    1. NilB

      …”we will hear” … word was omitted 

  24. jason wright

     You use Facebook? I’m shocked to hear that.The default position of anyone concerned about personal data protection should be to shun FB. 

    1. fredwilson

      i use it to see what my kids are up to. so i am using it as a stalker 🙂

      1. Emily Merkle

        We live vicariously 😉

  25. ShanaC

    Maybe, just maybe, I should slow down one of my projects in order to develop a PAC. After all, there are SuperPac kits now thanks to Stephen Colbert. Then the nuclear option will always exist for the people who support this stuff…

  26. Phanio

    Facebook is a private company and can do what they please. Don’t blame and boycott Facebook – go right to the source. Let your representatives know how you feel that way they stop this crap once and for all!

  27. Brad

    Why do we keep voting these idiots in?Facebook has become less and less relevant as time goes by. I see the same 15 out of over 400+ friends posting. I think that Facebook is getting concerned about their own relevancy.I get more interaction on than almost any where.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i’m drinking from a firehose of interaction!

      1. Brad

         there is no doubt you have created quite the blog for interaction of so many topics. it really is a must read for me daily.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          A marketer over at OpenView Partners recently wrote a post about what has contributed to the top VC “personal brands.” Fred, of course, tops the list. In fact she used a subtitle ”How to be the Fred Wilson of your industry.” One of the keys that I really resonated with — especially after hanging out at AVC for a couple of years — “Think of using the social channels as a way to communicate rather than simply distribute”

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Well, whatever you are drinking, there is also an ample amount of “secret sauce” somewhere in the mix. I’m assuming you’ve seen this report by OpenView Partners that names you as the most influential tech VC online., so they aren’t the first ones to figure this out and we all already know this by now, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone do analysis to this extent to arrive at this conclusion. I think it’s a good study.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Part of the reason is a secret, magic word.  Here’s the envelope.  And the word is focus.  

  28. John Revay

    I saw the Post headline – I thought we were in for a lively political discussion re: Romney vs Obama

  29. Mark Gannon

    Last year the New Yorker had a story  story about a doctor in Camden New Jersey who used hospital, police, and EMT data to analyze the source of medical costs in the face of a lot of incumbent inertia.  While the inertia wasn’t always malevolent, it was an enormous obstacle that I think shouldn’t be ignored as an obstacle for insurgents.  The kicker comes when he has to get a law passed through the state legislature to implement what should be a no brainer activity.

    1. LE

      That looks like an interesting article thanks for suggesting it.

  30. sigmaalgebra

    I’d read the C|Net article on CISPA yesterday.  Yes, the goal is for the US to do the same as China and Iran.As well illustrated via the PIPA/SOPA fight, a big lesson now is don’t pick a fight with a focused group of one billion+ people, with likely 100+ million in the US, who communicate at one trillion+ bits per second.  US politicians who are slow to learn this lesson might be happier in other careers.  Net, US Internet users should be able to defeat CISPA.CISPA is another example of a broad point — an overactive US Federal Government (Feds) that wants too much money, power, and control.If necessary CISPA might fall via the SCOTUS as in violation of the Bill of Rights:”Amendment IV”The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”While our founding fathers didn’t understand the technology of the Internet, they understood overactive governments and the importance of informed citizens.There is a strong feedback loop here:  The Internet is by a wide margin the most effective means yet of informing a large number of US voters both for protecting their freedom on the Internet and also for correcting many of the worst problems in the US by just the simple act of pulling some levers.One of the best ways to throttle an overactive US Federal Government is to restrict its funding.  Hopefully next year we will do a lot of that.There is a theme developing:  The Bill of Rights doesn’t apply here; four big examples:First, the Rights do not apply to air transportation where passengers are stripped naked and groped between their legs.  There are secret criteria, secret lists, taking people out of line for hours of questioning for secret reasons or no reasons, nothing like due process, etc.Second, the Rights do not apply on the highways where the FBI attaches GPS tracking devices or gets cell phone data and, thus, stalks people.Third, with CISPA the Rights do not apply to the Internet where the Feds get to open and read e-mail, tap voice telephones, grab data, and stalk people.  The FBI, DHS, and NSA, trying to be like China and Iran, have become stalkers, perverts, voyeurs, data thieves, blackmailers, garbage searchers, etc.Fourth, with Obamacare, the Rights do not apply to medical privacy.  Moreover, Obamacare is really mostly about essentially a total takeover of everything having to do with medical care, over 16% of the US economy, with huge opportunities for son of Solyndra, Chicago style, shakedowns, patronage, payoffs, kickbacks, blackmail, new revenue, tyranny, along with invasion of medical privacy.The USPS, railroad, telephone, and highway networks have a lot in common with the Internet, but the Feds don’t get their way with us on those networks.  We need to keep our freedoms on the Internet also.Actually, at this point, it would be difficult seriously to restrict freedoms on the Internet.  Here are two reasons:First, we can make more use of encryption.  A good source is Phil Zimmerman’s Pretty Good Privacy (PGP).  I have a copy an early version of the source code, and at…is> PGP Command Line PGP Command Line now from Symantec enables organizations to quickly and easily integrate encryption into batch processes, scripts and applications to ensure the security of corporate data at rest or in transit.  Whether your challenge is protecting credit card information, financial transactions, payroll, medical records, or other confidential information, PGP Command Line’s scriptable encryption is a key part of an organization’s data protection tool kit.There is also:Bruce Schneier, ‘Applied Cryptography, Second Edition:  Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C’, ISBN 0-471-11709-9, John Wiley and Sons, New York.The key math result is just Fermat’s little theorem, is elementary, and is covered early in just:William J. LeVeque, ‘Elementary Theory of Numbers’, ISBN 0-486-66348-5, Dover, New York, 1990.Until the Feds figure out how to factor a product of two very large prime numbers quickly, our message contents are fairly safe.Second, essentially by adding one more layer of addressing, we can have many Internets connecting essentially the same end points.  Some of these Internets can have strong privacy guarantees via encryption, proxies, off-shore locations, etc.This story is old:As at…often attributed to Thomas Jefferson is:     “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”As at…Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack (1738):     “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.”sometimes phrased as:     “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”The KGB should be happy and maybe proud for the long list of ways we are shooting our democracy in its gut for no good reason and, thus, doing more damage to ourselves than any foreign enemy has ever done with military force. 

  31. Otto

    FB supports CISPA because they ask for a lot of personal information to start with. If they don’t support a bill like this it’s a huge risk to their business, the threat being from The State. It would also give FB artificial advantage over upstart competitors who might be intimidated by this legislation. FB can afford to lose a small percentage of users who object but their loss won’t be felt. Regardless if CISPA passes or not FB is now effectively an agent of the federal government and enabler of corrupt power. They cannot be trusted and to continue calling FB “social media” is a insult to anything civil.

  32. LE

    Fred’s question below:i understand the need for security. but do you feel it is right to share the information on your clients with the government if they ask? should they be required to get a warrant to get that infoWe’ve had at least 1 recent request from the DOJ for customer information which arrived one day and required me to show up in court in another state. (Attached).Note the wording and language. What would you do? I attempted to contact the customer in question (phone, email, postal). The phone supplied was disconnected, the email bounced, don’t remember what happened with the postal letter if it was returned or not.At that point I decided to comply because from my review it appeared that I had grounds (per ICANN) to cancel the registration and that a stolen credit card may have been used to secure the domain.So I gave them the requested information and then billed, and was paid, $500 for the info.I feel that I did the right thing. I took the time to investigate and came to a conclusion that it was a good idea to release the info requested.  There was prima facie evidence that it made sense to give this information out.If I was running a supermarket and the police came to me and said “we think one of your customers is involved in this illegal activity and we’d like to know if we can see their purchase receipts” my guess is that I’d cooperate without regard to privacy issues if I felt, upon review, the request made sense.  (But I wouldn’t want a manager making that decision.)That said I’d like to make one important point. I don’t feel that the larger companies will operate with the same care that I would without a system of checks and balances in place. But I don’t think that the only way to do that is with the use of a warrant signed by a judge.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for sharing that Larry

  33. vniven

    Facebook’s hubris is clear in their public support for CISPA.  They really seem to believe they are/will remain powerful enough to choose whether they will or won’t share private info, whenever the federal government asks for it. Wow. That is incredibly naive.  

  34. sigmaalgebra

    I don’t get the potential role of the US Federal Government (Feds) in Internet security.For the DNS system, I can see that the instances should be carefully handled.  And maybe the effort DNSSEC will help.But for my client and server computers connected to the Internet, I just accept that any possible packets will arrive and expect no security problems from them.If there are security problems, e.g., the old “buffer overflows”, then I will scream bloody murder to Microsoft, Cisco, and whatever intrusion detection/prevention systems Microsoft, Cisco, etc. suggest I use.For problems like SQL injection, I see no risks at all; just write T-SQL statements using variables instead of putting user-supplied data directly in the T-SQL statement as a literal.Generally whenever receive data from a user, just have to assume that the data can consist of any bytes at all and then start checking from there.  I have such code in my Web site software now.If there are security holes in Microsoft’s Internet server IIS and Web software ASP.NET, I expect Microsoft to fix the problems.So, if I have security problems, I can think of organizations to call, but the Feds are not among them.I might have had a little more faith in the efficacy of the Feds for Internet security if they had not let employees enter and leave secure areas with USB memory sticks.For the Feds working on Internet security, I’d advise them to work on US border security first!Net, I regard claims that CISPA is for Internet security to be technically grotesquely incompetent or a deliberate scam or both.  As I voter, I’m not pleased with the Feds pursuing grotesque technical incompetence or scams. 

    1. Tom Labus

      Nicely said.Thanks for a concise analysis.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Most of the Internet security problems are a case of computer system ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny! Or, as of the MIT Project Mac system Multics, a lot in security was well in place. In particular, Multics had authentication, capabilities, and access control lists (ACLs), and these remain crucial to security. Kerberos brought third party authentication, and RSA added public key encryption to Kerberos.A major theme of a system like Multics is that any user was welcome to write and run any software at all, and maybe waste some system resources, but otherwise cause no security problems at all. IBM’s VM/CMS system appears to have also achieved this criterion plus some: Could write and run any operating system software, in a virtual machine, with no security problems at all. Indeed, could have a user written operating system running on a virtual machine running on a virtual machine several levels deep with no security problems at all!Nearly all of the current world of computing grew from PC computing which was slow to implement some of the old lessons and in the meanwhile left a lot of really silly security holes.E.g., the buffer overflow errors, some of which as of a few months ago Microsoft was still fixing, deserve a grade of F in Introduction to Computer Programming 101.The situation on security has at times been so bad that it’s easy to suspect that Microsoft and others noticed that their rushed software development program resulted in security problems and concluded that this situation was a good feature of their business model and not a bug because it forced users to keep ‘upgrading’. Indeed, this point was so easy to understand it was inserted early in the 1997 James Bond movie ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’.A large fraction of security problems can be solved just by using an old rule:”Never let data from an untrusted source execute as software.”So, the buffer overflow, virus, and SQL injection problems are violations of this rule. That Web browser programmers have so commonly let data in Web pages execute as arbitrary, native machine code deserves getting the tar and feathers ready. Microsoft’s long push for ActiveX in Web browsers was outrageous — an ActiveX program can do anything. That Firefox had Java default enabled is similar.To me the worse violation of this rule was when an e-mail program ‘opened’ an e-mail attachment and, thus, let arbitrary data execute as a program. There just was no excuse for that.To me a program should run in its own address space with a list of severely constrained ‘capabilities’. E.g., the program is given an instance directory in the file system, is restricted on what it can do inside that directory, and can do nothing outside it. Then there need to be restrictions on what peripheral devices the program can access, etc. The restrictions should be severe enough that any malicious software can be executed safely. As far as I can tell, we’re not there yet on Windows.One of the places I’ve screamed bloody murder, and a good indication of Microsoft’s real attitude, is the astoundingly high determination Microsoft has whenever a DVD is inserted into a DVD drive: Then Microsoft eagerly jumps up, looks hard for software on the DVD to execute, and gleefully executes it, no matter how many times a user has clicked “Do NOTHING”.There is something profound about “nothing” Microsoft just refuses to understand.Supposedly on Windows XP there is a fix, but it requires getting out the Windows Registry editor and tweaking some obscure codes which is also outrageous.I’m sensitive and way beyond pissed off about Microsoft computer security because it has been the worst problem in my project. The next worst problem has been Microsoft’s documentation. Except for those problems, all the work has been fast, fun, and easy. That computer security and bad documentation should be my worst problems is just outrageous.Actually, so far, in spite of statements they take security seriously, Microsoft STILL refuses to ‘get it’ on security, and this fact is killing their business. E.g., so far apparently there is no way someone can just download and run software on Windows safely and, instead, any such instance is a risk of throwing the computer and all its data open to some hacker in Eastern Europe. Literally.Microsoft’s solution is ‘signed code’, but that constricts what open source, etc. code can catch on on Windows.So, in practice, on Windows used as an end user system, people should only run code they have written themselves or signed code from trusted sources (and still worry) and otherwise should just do their computing where Windows is used just to run a Web browser so that the Windows computer is treated as a new version of a ‘dumb terminal’ and all the rest of the work is done on a Web server. That is, a huge advantage Microsoft has with Windows is the ability to run software locally, but they are giving up that advantage due to their absurdly weak approach to security.Personally I can get a partial solution since I can and do easily enough write my own programs. Still, the security vulnerabilities of Windows are a grand disaster.

  35. Donna Brewington White

    Perhaps because I was not a Facebook early adopter, it never really felt like a startup to me. Even three or so years ago when I first signed up, it already felt like a big company waiting to happen, like it was already practicing being a big company in some ways. Perhaps it was that attitude of “we know what’s good for you.” I haven’t ever gotten over this, even when they may have been right.So this Facebook/CISPA thing does not surprise me. Not in the least.

  36. Dave W Baldwin

    Fred, from my position, it comes down to if this is truly SOPA/PIPA under a different heading.Reading some of the opinions linked above and/or the top Google hits, there isn’t much showing what is going on.1)  What is the lurking problem that needs to be addressed per our nation’s security?  What is the best way to make adjustments needed to address this issue?2)  List the vagaries that need to be clarified, and then you have a starting point to talk to your Representative.  You then come off informed rather than whichever kook that will throw out the same garbage all the time.  (this is meant for everyone, not directed at Fred).3)  SOPA/PIPA was an obvious afront giving content producers excessive powers.  CISPA looks to be an effort to open communication between our military/intellegence and the Social Graph.  Problem is, with all of the claims that FB doesn’t have to respond and so on, this whole thing is vague.  Vagary is a lawyer’s buffet that includes desert.IMO, we need to have some strong points to stand on, forcing the Legeslative Branch to answer questions… then maybe if they have a problem ‘answering’ the question legitimately, they can be shown a better way.Kind of like the State of Florida going after the rights of those who find treasure I mentioned a couple months back.  Those of us with cooler heads enabled the State Senator who had written the bill on its way to the Governor’s Desk to have an epiphany… and he prevented his bill that was passed to make it to the Governor.  As we did this, there were many that fall into hot head category who could have really f’d up the whole thing.Otherwise, as mentioned in the comments, hats off to you, Google and the others that wrote an excellent letter that helped big time taking down SOPA/PIPA.

    1. fredwilson

      sounds like we need to fight this one

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        It will be tough.

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        The critics may be focused too much on referring to SOPA/PIPA.The true danger is a company getting the green light to SELL your data via cash/barter to the Guv, other Company and/or 3rd Party.Thing is, your use of Incumbant nails it on the head.  Let’s say you had folks pushing you to run for whatever office.  The incumbant you’re facing will have the ability to pull your records based on whatever bullshit…….. so the solution is to force the rules to apply to the Incumbants themselves.That may be the first good play on the card table and then use it against them.

  37. jason wright…Well Fred, you didn’t get a mention, but Kickstarter did.

    1. fredwilson

      the last thing i need is mentions. i need hours.

  38. Ashish Goel

    Fred, you’ll love Kandinsky’s take on Incumbents vs. Insurgents. ‘On the problem of form’… 

  39. fredwilson