Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress (eff.org)
276 points by ryeguy_24 on Dec 16, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

They need to include $2,000,000 checks to each member of congress. That's about how much the media companies are paying everyone who supports this.

I'm curious as to where you found this information. Thanks.

That's the true horror of the situation. Not only are our representatives for sale, they're for sale cheap.

If the media companies were bribing these clowns with billions of dollars, that would be one thing... but some of the people who signed that open letter probably spend more than $2,000,000 on lunch.

Plus, those monies are simply campaign contributions. How much grift to career politicians actually pocket?

Mostly, they don't pocket it but use it. A congressman is always campaigning and using those funds to live well doing it. They get the rest a bit less openly and from fun loop holes like trading insider info.

That would be an interesting tactic. Could a company like google very publically donate a large sum of money to a PAC and get the results they want? I would imagine if they do it publicly, it could possibly restart the debate on campaign finance.

They should have made a request to not only demand such bills to cease, but to demand bills that reverse parts of current laws controlling the Internet.

Otherwise politicians will reduce some of the bill, but the bill will still implement more and more Internet controls [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Door-in-the-face_technique

One solution is for everyone to simply refuse to implement whatever stupid law is passed. Closes #666 (WONTFIX)

The problem with this solution is that the government has guns and prisons and they will use these to compel individuals to do as they say. If every ISP refused to comply, the feds would make a big show of raiding some significant-but-not-huge regional ISPs and scare the rest into compliance.

Of course, some of this country's largest ISPs probably like SOPA and similar legislation because they see it as strengthening their larger source of revenue: cable television.

I noticed Vint Cerf specified "signing as private citizen". Does anyone know why Google tied his hands?

Because this one is the letter from internet engineers. Google had to enter the lobbying game, but the view point of individuals should be more important to a society than the “money as free speech” of corporations.

> Does anyone know why Google tied his hands?

Cerf isn't a google officer, board member, or spokesperson. Those are the folks who "speak for Google".

I doubt they did, I expect it was his choice.

it seems like everyone on the list who works for a well-known company (twitter, juniper, RIPE) all signed that way.

Google (and Youtube, which they own) obviously have a vested interest in seeing SOPA fail. I think it was important for him to note that he's not a representative of their corporate interests. In his own expert opinion, SOPA is a bad idea.

As huge corporation Google has to be ready to lose this fight and in that situation it would be beneficial for them to be on the good side of the victors.

Except their co-founder signed as the co-founder of the company. I would assume he's signing as a private citizen to say he's signing because he, and not the company he works for, sees it as a detriment.

I think it's the wrong approach. How about:

"Dear Congresscritters, we made the internet. It is now everywhere. If you pit the full force of the law against it -- the law will lose. Do not make yourselves irrelevant."

I'm sure you're joking, but unfortunately, not only is that approach wrong, the statement is wrong also. If anyone will lose, it's probably not going to be the law.

I actually don't think so here. You're basically up against the laws of physics. Information is fundamentally unlike other types of assets, in that there's no cost associated with copying it and it can be very quickly and easily be disseminated far and wide. Let's say they manage to totally destroy DNS, or whatever mechanism they're using to enforce this: the internet isn't one network, of course, and will detect this as damage and route around it, even if that means moving to a totally new networking stack.

This is a losing battle on the part of the IP rights holders. In many ways, that's depressing. But even if they said, "pirate movies and we'll kill you," it still wouldn't stop the signal. All of these laws and treaties are bandaid hacks to stem the tide. Ultimately they won't win, though it may be messy along the way if they try to govern without understanding this.

The human cost here is enormous. Did drug users win the war on drugs? Well, half a million of them are in jail at the moment, and it's hard to call that victory. If you think the same thing can't happen with copyright infringement given the political will, you're wrong.

I don't think the same thing can't happen here at all. I agree with you that if they really wanted to pursue that path, the human cost could be enormous. However, we're also saying that if you really wanted some weed, there remain many avenues available to you to acquire it, despite all that will.

Trading movies and music online is a lot different than using or trading an illegal drug. People actually will stop downloading movies, etc, if it means going to prison. It is pretty easy to stop yourself from watching movies. It is not so easy to stop your physical addiction to a drug. The risk/benefit in the mind of a copyright infringer is on a completely different scale than the risk/benefit that exist in the mind of a drug addict.

I'd bet that the belief of likelihood of prosecution for a drug crime is about the same as being sued by the RIAA or MPAA for most people. They're aware they could get in trouble, but it's unevenly enforced and unlikely to actually happen to them.

Regardless, I don't think the willful infringers are the most interesting group here. If user generated content really does lead to sites getting shut down in an unreasonable way (which is probably unlikely to actually happen), I think it's those groups that would be leading the charge to a next gen network, not the infringers.

You are omitting that laws of physics are not enough, there must be some infrastructure too.

If you make a significant % of the population into criminals, the population's respect for the law suffers and subsequent legislation is more likely to be ignored or bypassed by the population.

(I wonder how many legislators learn at least a little bit of game theory)

Not to mention that insulting them is sure to have the opposite effect.

This question isn't specific to the letter, but I've been wondering...

Wouldn't SOPA's effects on DNS be negated by simply hosting your sites' DNS and setting your machines' DNS servers outside the US? Of course this would have major negative impact on DNS performance.

That's what I've been thinking. And I think that's something that should be promoted more. Laws like this, aren't going to break the internet per se, but they might break it in the USA. Politicos should learn that laws like this threaten the USA tech sector. Might as well move your servers & companies off shore.

What? Unintended consequences? Those are never something to worry about.

I think the bill makes it illegal for a US entity to do that.

I'm curious where this list of people came from. Some are much more notable than others. Are they part of a group, have common investors, or what?

Conspicuously absent: Berners-Lee and Bray.

Berners-Lee is British. He has been working with the British government on internet issues. I know this is crazy, but they actually listen to him.

they actually listen to him

Unfortunately, not so. e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/8030467/Inter...

The Digital Economy Act he is complaining about in that article - which, like SOPA, included provisions for national censorship in the name of copyright - passed by a large majority. Most MPs were not present for the debate, but simply voted according to their party line.

Most MPs were not present for the debate, but simply voted according to their party line.

That's the case in UK politics. The 'party whip' is used, and only in uncommon cases is a 'free vote' allowed.

And Bray is Canadian.

I can't find much on Berners-Lee's stance on SOPA. Do you have any information as to why he wouldn't sign this letter?

EDIT: Just realized he is British (thanks to the other reply). Do you believe his silence (if any, again I can't find much on his stance) relates to his citizenship?

There's no citizenship requirement for petitioning Congress, the petition doesn't identify them as exclusively US citizens, this is an issue with international repercussions, and they're prominent figures that even the dolts in the House may have heard of. While nationality is likely the cause, they are no less conspicuously absent.

This is apropos of nothing, but it's nice to see L. Jean Camp represent my alma mater.

> ... a group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers

This topic is probably the first thing they've all ever agreed on.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact