Lawmakers Call For Internet Bill Of Rights

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Ron Wyden warn of “cyber-industrial complex,” celebrate death of SOPA, PIPA.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa warned of the rise of a “cyber-industrial complex” in an appearance at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York today.

“If you don’t write this bill carefully, you’re going to shovel out billions and billions of dollars to contractors,” Wyden said of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, up for consideration in the Senate in the coming weeks, comparing the lobby for it to the vaunted military-industrial complex of the Cold War. “They’re not doing much — they’re bringing in a lot of money and they’re writing reports, and they are saying there is a huge, huge problem here to which giving them more money is the solution.”

Wyden, a Democrat, and Issa, and Republican, joined forces early this year to help kill the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act, which many new media companies viewed as deadly to their businesses. CISPA, Wyden argued, could have the same unintended consequences in pursuit of piracy-prevention.

Issa, addressing why lawmakers are often clueless about the impact of Internet regulation, said simply, “Geeks have better things to do [than run for office.]”

Issa read of a draft of his “Digital Bill Of Rights,” which he is crowd-sourcing with the intent to introduce in Congress. Wyden compared the effort to a “digital Constitutional convention,” that shifts the balance of power from “middle-men” to the vast network of Internet users.

Wyden also raised questions about how the Obama administration is handling negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying the administration is allowing lobbyists at Halliburton and the Motion Picture Association of America to access draft language, but not Congress or the public.

“I am concerned that the fundamental gains we’ve made in Internet freedom over the last 15 years could be wiped out if,” he said, pledging to keep the pressure on the Obama administration for public access to drafts of the trade agreement.

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