Libertarian-leaning publication ReasonTV has produced an entertaining five minute video about how video games have gone from being murder simulators and the scourge of parents everywhere (accused of causing everything from obesity to the loss of empathy in children, for example) to useful tools in the medical and mental health fields and fine art at museums.
According to a post on The Hill privacy groups remain unimpressed with efforts to draft a revised version of the SECURE IT Act. Senate Republicans released a revised version of their cybersecurity bill on Wednesday, but privacy groups shrugged off the changes as minor.
On June 19 we reported that six Republican Senators signed onto a letter written by Senators Herb Kohl (Chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights) and Mike Lee (Ranking Member of the same subcommittee) urging the International Trade Commission to reject a request by Motorola to ban Microsoft's Xbox 360 ("exclusion orders over standard-essential patents"). The Motorola action is related to a long-running dispute over royalty payments that Microsoft uses.
If you are reading the web, playing a Facebook game, or watching a YouTube video, you could be violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984 - at least according to the way the Justice Department has interpreted it in several recent cases. The law was originally passed to protect government computer systems and financial databases from hackers, but amendments and new interpretations by federal prosecutors have taken a well defined law into broad interpretation.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and a co-sponsor of Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), thinks that President Barack Obama will back down from a threat he made earlier in the year to veto the bill if it crosses his desk. The Administration's problem with the bill was that it gave amnesty to corporations willing to share user data with government agencies like the NSA and did not do enough to safeguard internet user privacy concerns.
But none of those concerns will matter anymore, according to Rogers.
The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA) lead sponsor Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) says that the bill will be dead in the water if it is not voted on before July. The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which includes some of the language from the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), could be voted on before that because it has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). While the Administration support's Lieberman's bill, the President said earlier this year that he would veto CISPA in its current form if it crossed his desk.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are offering a draft cybersecurity bill to fellow senators that they hope will convince them to support the bill. In the new bill Homeland Security would have the power to "pressure" but not force critical infrastructure companies to improve the security of their computer systems.
Tick tock says the clock and Congressman Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who said today that time is running out on passing the Senate's version of the cybersecurity bill. Perhaps he means that time is running out before the general public figures out just how awful it is...
Speaking at West Point, Langevin admitted that there was still "a gulf in opinions" about the government's role in protecting private computer networks and that the divide has become "an increasingly daunting barrier" to passing reforms.
Advocacy groups Fight for the Future, Democrats.com, The Liberty Coalition, and the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), have banded together to create a new website called Privacy Is Awesome, to fight against CISPA and the Senate version of the bill, SECURE IT Act. The site is designed to teach netizens how to defeat the bills in five easy steps:
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-ORE.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade Customs and Global Competitiveness, introduced legislation this week that would clarify the USTR’s obligation to share information on trade agreements with Members of Congress. Wyden, who spoke on the floor of the Senate about why this is necessary, has been a critic of the Administration’s handling of international treaties including ACTA and most recently the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said on Monday that the Senate's cybersecurity legislation being pushed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) is an overreaction to cyber threats and would undermine the privacy rights of American citizens.
Wyden said that both the House and Senate bills "subordinate all existing privacy rules and constitutional principles to the poorly defined interest of 'cybersecurity.'"
Fifty legal scholars in the United States have written an open letter to the Senate urging them to use their rights under Article I of the Constitution to force the Obama Administration to submit the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to Congress from approval. Under the U.S. Constitution the Senate must approve all International treaties before they can be signed by the United States government.
Earlier this week the Center for Democracy & Technology sent a letter to the Senate expressing its grave concerns over the cybersecurity bill sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT.) and Susan Collins (R-ME.). The letter was signed by 21 organizations and individuals that see the Senate’s version of CISPA (SECURE IT) as deeply flawed and dangerous to Internet freedom, individual liberty, and privacy.
Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I- CT.) cybersecurity bill - a counterpart of sorts to the House's Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) - is running into plenty of opposition from Democrats in the Senate who say the bill does not do enough to protect the privacy of citizens. Adding to the fact that most Senate Republicans don't like Lieberman’s bill is that several prominent Democrats don't like it either.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) can't let the defeat of his bill go, and continues to insist that most of the provisions in his Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are still needed. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week the Senator from Vermont bristled at the comments made by White House IP Czar Victoria Espinel, who said before the committee that maybe the problem of online piracy was solving itself through voluntary action.
Appearing on the C-SPAN program "The Communicators," White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt reiterated the Administration’s concerns with the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) that was recently passed in the house and promised the President would veto it if it crossed his desk in its current form. The Administration's concerns with the bill relate to how loosely worded it is, its lack of provisions to ensure privacy, as well as its amnesty provisions for companies that turn over user data to government agencies.
Congressmen Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) introduced a bill on Monday that would require video games to carry a special warning label similar to the kind found on cigarettes. That warning would be:
"WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior."
The bill is H.R. 4204, or Violence in Video Games Labeling Act. The sponsors say the law is a reaction to increasing evidence that playing violent games can have a serious long-lasting impact on children that should require a health warning to consumers.
Two ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have said this week that they are concerned that some patents and actions related to enforcing them, are stifling competition. Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-Wi.) said in a letter to the Justice Department on Thursday expressing their fears about how patent fights are being played out in courts and other legal bodies in the U.S. and around the world.
An amendment that was added to the payroll tax holiday legislation was removed today, much to the delight of net neutrality principle supporters. The amendment was adopted during the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee markup session in December. The amendment was put forth by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and would have stopped the FCC from forcing net neutrality requirements when issuing new licenses to wireless carriers who won incentive auctions authorized by the spectrum bill.
SaveTheInternet points out some interesting information dug up by Media Matters about where a lot of big media money has gone and why some lawmakers pushed so hard for the passage of SOPA and PIPA. While their analysis can't show that the money was directly related to PIPA and SOPA, it certainly shows the level of influence money has in Washington.
This Politico story points out that anti-piracy legislation may be the hottest of hot potatoes in the 2012 election cycle, and while lawmakers promise progress in the not-too-distant future, the likelihood of anything getting through either legislative bodies is highly unlikely.
“Going into an election year, there’s going to be a lot of [reluctance] to do anything that can end up being an unnecessary battle,” a Republican House aide told POLITICO. “It became a political hot potato.”
While a petition asking the White House to dump ACTA is well intentioned, as TechDirt points out, it misses the mark for a number of reasons. The real question Americans should be asking is did the President follow the Constitution when he unilaterally had his administration negotiate this international treaty and did he have the authority to do it without involving lawmakers?
We missed the statement PIPA sponsor Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) issued late last week about the urgency of passing anti-piracy legislation. Either Leahy doesn't understand the law written by the lobbyist who donated to him, or it is time for him to retire. In his statement Leahy continues to support a fact that has yet to be proven by any kind of study or research: that piracy from overseas web sites cause the entertainment industry to lose jobs.
PIPA’s been having a rough day.
After yesterday’s protest, scores of congressmembers have withdrawn their support for the bill, its sponsor is considering editing out the search engine provisions, and now, according to Politico’s unnamed sources, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (pictured) “won't whip Democratic votes” for the much-maligned bill.
Politico reports that Protect IP Act (PIPA) lead sponsor Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) are in discussions to remove the search engine provisions from the bill. Leahy is reportedly working with the Arizona Senator to hammer out a "manager’s amendment" prior to the bill's floor vote scheduled for next Tuesday. A Leahy spokeswoman confirmed with Politico that the two senators have "authorized their staffs to discuss a manager’s amendment."
After just one day of Internet protests and a concerted effort by the Internet community, the mainstream media finally took notice of the war between the entertainment industry and the Internet over SOPA and PIPA. Every broadcast and cable television network - much to their chagrin - was forced to say something about sites like Wikipedia and Reddit going dark, and Google's redacted logo had a huge impact as well. With the increased media attention and a deluge of phone calls and emails from constituents, several lawmakers panicked and withdrew their support from the bill.
I don't know if SOPA or PIPA will have an impact on the presidential election, but it is disconcerting to note that the person serving as the spokesperson of the Democratic party is listed as a supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D- representing Florida's 20th District) is the current chair of the Democratic National Committee and is listed as a supporter of SOPA at ProPublica.org.
What level of commitment does the Entertainment Software Association have in the anti-piracy bills before lawmakers? About $190,000's worth according to a Kotaku report.