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Sen. Ron Wyden places a "hold" on the Protect IP Act (arstechnica.com)
197 points by chanks on May 26, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments

OK, I'm now a fan. I was up in Oregon for grad school during the Senate campaign between Wyden and Smith. I lean libertarian/fiscal-conservative, so was rooting for Smith against the awkward, liberal Wyden. Funny to think about the consequences had my wishes come true: Wyden is taking a well-thought-out, brave and effective position here and I'm reasonably sure that, had my wishes come true, Smith would not have done the same. Go Wyden!

Separately and ironically, after bitching about "single-issue voters" and "litmus tests" involving abortion, it seems I'm now exhibiting the same traits with respect to the intarwebs.

I find myself in a situation where my political-economic philosophies and my individual/corporate rights philosophies have put me in a situation where I feel like my candidate pool is an empty set.

If I favor the first, I'm more beholden to my corporate overlords.

If I favor the second, the country's spiral towards bankruptcy will speed up.

If I find an independent who feels as I do, my vote will be effectively wasted.

Nothing quite like feeling completely disenfranchised.

"If I favor the first, I'm more beholden to my corporate overlords.

If I favor the second, the country's spiral towards bankruptcy will speed up."

Didn't the "spiral towards bankruptcy" really put the pedal to the metal when Reagan doubled-down on nukes, pushed lower top-line tax rates, and doubled the national debt and deficit at once?

And, for the record, both parties are beholden to corporate overlords. Just a matter of degree. I fall in the "commerce with regulations and literally promote the general welfare" side of the fence, and so I fall in the democratic camp.

You are, of course, correct. When I ponder these things holistically, I do tend to think about the parties in terms of what they say their goals are (which, even if everything else about them turns my stomach, the Tea Party has at least raised dichotomy to a level of real discussion).

When it actually comes time to vote, those holistic views are chucked in favor of what the candidates are actually saying. In that context, there has rarely been a group not in the second category.

It also explains why my voting for the last few elections has tended to lean more towards Democrats, even though I have so many philosophical issues with the party.

Primaries matter. They often have more than two who could conceivably win, so your vote has more than one bit of information.

>Separately and ironically, after bitching about "single-issue voters" and "litmus tests" involving abortion, it seems I'm now exhibiting the same traits with respect to the intarwebs.

Same here. The more I understand about our government, political, and financial/economic system, the fewer issues I think are really crucial. Most are wedge/noise/dog-whistle type stuff by comparison.

NB: It was Wyden v. Huffman in 2010 and Smith v. Merkeley in 2008.

I don't know if his views on this issue completely line up with the prevailing sentiment here, but this is the second time in recent memory that Sen Wyden has acted to bail out the internet as we know it in the US. If the issue is important to you consider taking a minute to contact his office to express your opinion or even donate something to his campaign.

Contact form: http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/ Campaign: http://www.standtallforamerica.com/contribute/

For all their flaws, politicians are much more likely to pay attention to issues when they know an engaged audience is watching.

Dude!, thanks for posting the links. Never would have thought to support him beyond writing a comment (yay, faith in politics...) But I just wrote my first note of thanks to a politician. Tried to donate $50, but they don't take AmEx...

I wrote him also, and I hope everyone who has a few minutes will take that time to thank Senator Wyden for his efforts to protect our freedoms from overreaching legislature.

Hopefully if this gets blocked they'll do something about DHS arbitrarily seizing domain names.

The underlying issue there is 'civil forfeiture' in general. My view is that this practice is unconstitutional for any sort of property, and it's causing a lot of problems with the motivation of individuals in law enforcement. Automobiles, cash, and real estate have been being seized with no due process, no warrant and even no arrest for years. Domain names are just a new twist in that story.

Indeed the entire statute around these things needs to be re-thought out. And even if you are eventually acquitted the property can still remain the property of the state.


Just traveling with "an unusual amount of cash" can get your money taken from you on a traffic stop even if they don't find any evidence of you selling narcotics.

I have never understood how those seizures could not be unconstitutional. The laws shouldn't exist, but if they do, the people enforcing them should not be receiving the benefits for enforcing them.

The underlying issue there is 'civil forfeiture' in general. My view is that this practice is unconstitutional for any sort of property,

But property -- cars, domain names, cash, etc. -- is not human, and therefore is not protected by our Bill of Rights. Your domain name does not have the right to a trial, and so, when it is accused of being an accessory in a crime (e.g., the domain name was a person who set up the meeting between the customer and the purveyor of stolen IP), the government is within its authority to detain it and keep it locked up for as long as is deemed necessary.

(Not that I buy this bizarre logic, but that's the rationale for asset forfeiture.)

The 4th amendment regards "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizure". That appears to cover seizure of property fairly well, though I suppose the key word is 'unreasonable'. It's also unclear how this is applied to civil matters vs. criminal. Though forfeiture is usually hand-in-hand with criminal charges, they claim it's a civil matter.

The 5th amendment says citizens shall not be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In the US, police can currently take your car, money, or other possessions without even placing you under arrest. This seems to me to violate the spirit of this amendment as well as the 4th.

Things are never easy, when you start to break things down to the atomic level.

For example, if my wife were to commit a crime, they'd take her away from me without giving me any kind of hearing to protect my interests in her. And believe me, my interest in her is much stronger than in any domain name, or a car.

The only difference in this hypothetical is that she, being human, gets to have her own hearing. But with inanimate objects (or intangibles), there's not even an obligation to give the object a hearing.

Disclaimer once again: I disagree with my own logic here, I'm just trying to play devil's advocate, illustrating the course that an argument might take.

And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

(I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. I hope I lose.)

It's strange how so many people find this logic insane when applied to a domain name or physical property [1], but accept it wholeheartedly when applied to a corporation.

[1] This logic is often used by police departments to rob people of cash/cars on the theory they are somehow involved in drugs.

I'm not sure what you mean when you refer to applying to to a corporation. Can you expand that a little?

One example: people often advocate for restrictions on "corporate" speech (or more precisely, the right of the corporations owners to use their property for expressive purposes) on the grounds that a corporation isn't a human and therefore doesn't deserve freedom of speech.

But of course corporations don't deserve freedom of speech. They use their speech to influence the electoral process. When G.E. runs ads supporting candidates, they undermine the principles of democracy. Except for the New York Times, NBC, the ACLU, and all the others whose speech I often agree with, corporate rights should be tightly controlled and regulated, and you should only be able to create corporations that create speech that legislators can deal with.

The basis of corporate law is that a corporation is considered to be an individual in certain respect - hence the root of the word. A corporation is given certain rights and responsibilities that a natural person would have.

I never noticed that "corporation" is so close to "corporeal".

You're right about that logic being dangerous. The sad thing is that I can think up similar reasoning that would allow them to sidestep the Constitution with respect to the internet entirely too easily and to derail any opposition with meaningless partisan bickering.

The more I think about it, the more I think that we need to extend the Bill of Rights.

But doesn't the Fifth Amendment explicitly protect property? (I'm not saying you're wrong about their rationale, but the rationale doesn't seem based in reality to me.)

Previous HN love for Wyden: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1922405

(the links posted by mschwar99 below displayed as 'visited' in my browser, so I had to check it out on searchyc.com!)

Ron Wyden is one of the few politicians who understands the Web and one of the few folks in Oregon who has understood the potential of Web startups for more than a decade. I'm always proud to send this guy back to Washington. And I'll keep doing it as long as he stands up to bills like this.

is it ok to ask where are they selling it ? lol

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