Could Better Tech Lobbyists Help Clueless Politicians Realize Why SOPA Is So Terrible?

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 30 2011 11:50 AM

Could Better Tech Lobbyists Help Clueless Politicians Realize Why SOPA Is So Terrible?

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Rep. Lamar Smith speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill June 20, 2008.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Yesterday, Politico published a letter to the editor from House judiciary committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas. Smith claims that opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act have “no basis for their complaints. … Companies that benefit from working with rogue websites will likely continue to criticize the Stop Online Piracy Act. But they use fear instead of facts to discredit the bill.”

Meanwhile, on Miller-McCune’s Idea Lobby blog, Emily Badger talks to Expert Labs’ Clay Johnson, who says that pro-SOPA politicians like Smith don’t know what they’re talking about. But these politicians aren’t entirely to blame. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, spends considerable time (some might say too much) educating Congress on its issues. Meanwhile,

Congress could be more educated about the Internet and technology. But … if your member of Congress doesn’t know how the Internet works (or why SOPA would in fact harm its basic architecture), that means no one with a vested interest in its regulation has turned up in Washington to try and explain it to him or her. Yes, like some septuagenarians elsewhere, many 70-year-olds in Congress don’t get technology. But techies don’t get Congress very well, either.
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According to Badger and Johnson, the tech industry has for too long clung to a “belief that good technology can always innovate its way around government regulation. But that time is over.”

Read more on Miller-McCune.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

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