Senator Wyden and “Internet Freedom” in 2013 - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Senator Wyden and “Internet Freedom” in 2013

Senator Wyden and “Internet Freedom” in 2013

Dubbed the “Senator from the Internet,” Senator Wyden has played an instrumental role in being a crusader for the freedom of the internet. When SOPA and PIPA were both on the table and there was overwhelming support from the industry for their passing, he was one of the individuals on Capitol Hill pushing for their demise. Indeed, Capitol Hill learned the hard way that the internet and its audience is no pushover. When the SOPA and PIPA legislation were being promoted, Capitol Hill received over 15 million calls and e-mails in protest. Once again, David managed to bring down Goliath, but the defeat of SOPA and PIPA does not end the inquiry.

With a new year, new agendas are looming. This time, however, the “Senator from the Internet” has confirmed that he will be working hard for internet freedom. This time, the internet will have an even stronger voice. Wyden recently outlined the push for freedom he’s looking to pursue in 2013:

1. Data Cap Management: Back in the day, many of the major ISP providers were working undercover to slow down consumers’ internet speeds based on the potential files they were downloading. After that was discovered, this practice started to wind down but the ISPs haven’t relinquished their views (or their practices). Wyden has recently introduced legislation that states, to the extent ISPs need to manage congestion on their networks, they cannot do so the point they are monetizing the scarcity of data. The freedom to compete requires an internet connection, after all.

2. Software Patent Reform: Patents are an important necessity for the protection of innovation, but software is a different animal. With the speed with which software is used and created, patentability of software code actually stifles innovation. Software is merely a building block, the foundation upon which innovation thrives digitally. It should not be mixed with everything else, and Wyden plans to hammer this point home.

3. Due Process and Fair Use (Content): If website seizure raids are being conducted, any such seizures need to withstand proper due process. Furthermore, fair use needs to be strengthened. Wyden explains there needs to be a proper balance between those that hold rights and protecting innovation. “Sharing is Caring” is making a comeback!

4. Cyber Security: Although Wyden holds the minority view on this particular point, he believes cyber security has its limitations. It should not be conducted in such a way that it potentially sacrifices private data of the American consumers.

5. Access to the Internet: Net neutrality, anyone? ISPs should not be discriminating against specific content. Wyden claims this is particularly problematic with regards to mobile wireless access, which the FCC’s order on Internet openness doesn’t reach.

As Wyden fights in 2013 on the side of the Internet, he wants everyone to remember that he cannot be alone. The 15 million, and counting, that rose up to defeat SOPA and PIPA must stand alongside him if anything is to get done. With industry constantly pushing its agenda to curb the potential of the Internet, those who believe in its freedom must do the same.

Krzysztof Swiatek

Kris S. is a second year law student at Fordham. He is originally from New Jersey, but far away from the Jersey Shore. Constantly in a state of confusion over whether that’s a good or bad thing, he’s often found hitting the gym. When he’s not, he’s blogging about it.