Posts from Congress


Thanks to everyone in this community who has reached out to their elected officials on the SOPA/PIPA issue. It is hard to tell whether we are making a difference or not. But at least there are signs that Congress is recognizing that this issue is not as simple as the MPAA and RIAA have been making it out to be.

Yesterday Congressman Darrell Issa, who along with Zoe Lofgren, has been leading the opposition to SOPA in the House, tweeted out:

This is an indication that Rep Lamar Smith, who is the lead sponsor of SOPA is having a bit more difficulty ramming this bill through the Judiciary Committee than he thought. Maybe the letter from leading Internet inventors and engineers that came out last week caused everyone to hit the pause button (it should). Maybe your calls and letters are starting to have an effect (they should). Or maybe they just wanted to go home for the holidays.

But when the House and Senate come back in January, the SOPA and PIPA bills will be back on the agenda. We need to keep up the fight, we need to explain that this is very bad legislation, and we need to help Congress understand the Internet a little bit better so they don't fall prey to silly ideas like the ones in these bills. I'm committed to all of this. I hope you all are too.

I'll end with a link to a post written by Prof Laurence Tribe, who teaches Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, in which he asserts that SOPA violates our constitutional right to free speech.


Freedom To Innovate

For something like seventeen years, I have been investing in entrepreneurs who have had the freedom to innovate on the Internet. It has been a powerful life lesson for me. These people imagine something, they create it, and they are off and running building a business, hiring employees, generating cash flow. They ask nobody for permission. They don't need any permits. They don't need any real estate. All they need is a server (now rented in the cloud from Amazon and others) and a laptop or two and they are good to go.

Almost of two decades of this environment of "permissionless innovation" has led to the creation of a huge new industry, which is global in nature, but unquestionably led by the US. Almost every young person I meet coming out of college these days wants to work in this industry.

This industry is the Internet industry. And the Internet and this freedom to innovate is under its first existential threat right now from the MPAA and the RIAA and their legislators in Congress. They want to fundamentally change the way the Internet works and they want to regulate the Internet. We must stop this and the time to do it is now. Here's how you can help:

1) Visit, get your talking points on jobs, free speech, and security, and then call your representative. I'm told that making the phones ring in Washington is still the best way to let your representatives know that you are upset. So please do this. It's super easy thanks to, of course, the Internet.

2) Visit I Work For The Internet, snap a photo of yourself, and add your face and first name to a list of all the people who work on and for the Internet. There are a lot of us, more than anyone in Congress knows. It's time to show our faces and names.

3) Censor your blog posts, tweets, and/or facebook wall posts. Fill the internet up with blocked out text. Show those in Congress the world they are taking us toward. You can do that here. I will do it tomorrow.

4) Read what our contry's leading information security scientists have to say about the SOPA and PIPA proposals. Not surprising, the approaches outlined in these bills will lead us to a less secure Internet.

But most of all, we need you to Occupy Congress this week in opposition to PIPA and SOPA. We have the facts on our side and we have the numbers on our side. But we are behind in this fight, the votes are not on our side. It is time to change that.