Pushed by the same advocates who reminded the political class of their power earlier this year when they went dark for 12 hours, Republicans have and Democrats will include statements on “Internet Freedom” in their party platforms.
“We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations,” the Republican platform states.
State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, who served on the Republican platform committee, said Wednesday that there wasn’t much controversy over the language regarding the Internet.
“Republicans recognize the power of its independence,” Klarides said. “It also recognizes government regulation can’t keep up.”
The platform language adopted Tuesday by delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa was praised by former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who as head of the Motion Picture Association of America became a public enemy No. 1 in Silicon Valley by pushing anti-piracy legislation that would have changed how the Internet worked.
“The Republican Party platform language strikes a very smart balance: it emphasizes the importance of us doing more as a nation to protect our intellectual property from online theft while underscoring the critical importance of protecting internet freedom,” Dodd said in a statement Wednesday. “Copyright is the cornerstone of innovation; it allows creators to benefit from what they create.”
Dodd, who found himself at odds with some members of his former delegation and most of Congress on the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Act, will join Connecticut delegates in Charlotte next week at the Democratic National Convention where similar language is expected to appear in the platform.
State Rep. Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown, a delegate and a member of the committee that met last week in Detroit to develop the Democratic platform, said Internet Freedom also will be addressed by the Democrats
Lesser said the Democratic platform contains language which opposes the “extension of intergovernmental controls of the Internet,” while at the same time protecting intellectual property rights and acknowledging the need to keep it secure.
Public interest groups like Demand Progress, who encouraged lawmakers to shelve anti-piracy legislation in Congress earlier this year, saw the Republican Party platform as an acknowledgement that previous legislation was an overreach.
David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, called the platform “a big victory for the Internet” and said that under its terms, lawmakers who abided by the language would have opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act, and a recent cybersecurity bill.
The two bills, which died in January after Silicon Valley flexed its muscle with a 12-hour blackout of thousands of popular sites, would have given copyright holders the ability to block foreign and domestic websites from public view by forcing Internet service providers to “de-list” sites with the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). The bills would have given corporations the ability to go after publishers who link to the alleged infringers in any fashion, and force payment processing and advertising networks to immediately cut ties with alleged violators under threat of federal charges.
“It’s important for politicians to know that if they act contrary to these Internet freedom principles, they’ll risk the wrath of their party’s most committed activists,” Segal said.
And if the threat of turning off the Internet for 12 hours this winter wasn’t enough, Silicon Valley and Palo Alto are making sure politicians take their policy positions seriously in a language politicians understand — money.
“Democrats should act quickly if they want to keep up, and if they don’t want to lose their position as the party of the ‘net. Donations from Silicon Valley and the tech industry have been increasingly skewing towards the Republicans, and this is a huge opportunity for the Democrats to make a play for those dollars,” Segal said. “ It is clear today that censoring the internet or monitoring internet users is wildly unpopular, and we urge Democrats to join the fight to protect the internet today by forming their own party platform plank.”