Photo: Gage Skidmore
Alongside his zealous pursuit of Obama administration flubs as head of the House Oversight Committee, Congressman Darrell Issa of California has historically been on the forefront of technological issues within the Republican party.For instance, unlike some of his peers, Issa was a clear early opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, PIPA.
Now, Issa has taken the next step in his courtship of the internet, going so far as to float the idea for a bill banning regulation of the internet for two years on the massive internet aggregation site Reddit, where Issa also questions by its users.
The Guardian reports on the reaction, which appears to be passionate, regardless of the feelings of individual users:
On Tuesday Issa offered to answer questions posted to the site about his Internet American Moratorium Act of 2012 which aims to curb laws, rules and regulation of the internet for two years.
Reddit users can comment, upvote or downvote on links posted to the site in an effort to stimulate discussion. Issa’s post had received more than 2,000 comments by Wednesday morning.
The question most Reddit users upvoted asked why Issa voted in favour of the controversial internet-regulating bill Cispa. The bill faced massive opposition from most of the Reddit community who believed it would endanger the online privacy of individual citizens.
Issa responded to the criticism of his support of Cispa by directing users to an earlier Reddit post where he said that he thought at the time that the benefits like a possible increase cybersecurity would outweigh the potential costs of the bill.[…]
In response to statements about Issa’s support of Cispa, Reddit user iJosjj said: “What a bummer. One second I feel like he might be trying to do a good thing and the next he’s just another political hack.”
Issa responded: “Good morning. I hope this isn’t a bummer. I’m trying to create a two-year cooling off period on new internet rules, regulations and laws. Period. I believe that is a good thing right now. And you should be wary of politicians who agree with you all the time.”
Reddit is known for its extremely liberal bent, making Issa’s openness a bit of a “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” moment. And indeed, some of the reaction was heavily sceptical, as many liberal users criticised Issa’s proposed legislation for the fact that its ban on regulation would also apply to net neutrality, a darling of the tech activist Left.
“This sounds like a backdoor toward preventing net neutrality to me,” user danny_ray wrote. “Stopping congress from regulating anything is just a free pass to the companies that run the show. This would allow companies like [Time Warner Cable] and [AT&T] to do whatever they please.”
“This is my understanding as well,” user madjoy added. “He’s putting it in reddit-friendly language (we want fewer regulations on your Internet, just like you!!) even though this bill would actually prevent GOOD regulations that stop evil (or at least, profit-hungry at the expense of your freedom) ISPs.”
Nevertheless, some users were willing to give Issa the benefit of a doubt, or at least were far less willing to accept the arguments of the more liberal users.
“The Internet is FINE without opening it to the Pandora’s box that is government regulation,” user relemhcs wrote. “You obviously know nothing about radio if you can honestly say you want the Internet to be regulated like radio. As soon as you start down the slippery slope of government control, there is no stopping it, it will no longer be the FREE and OPEN Internet that we know.”
The full set of comments on Issa’s venture onto Reddit can be found here.
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