On PIPA and SOPA and a NYS Senator

New Yorkers, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is a cosponsor of PIPA, which along with SOPA, constitute some of the most distasteful pro-corporation (at the expense of the public) legislation to be brought through the process to become law ever.

In August of 2011, I contacted her via her website to warn of the dangers of SOPA and PIPA. Regretfully I do not have the transcript of what I originally sent her.

On November 3rd, 2011, I received this reply:

Thank you for writing to me regarding S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act of 2011. I understand your concerns.

I am a cosponsor of this legislation because I believe that we must protect American intellectual property against foreign websites that infringe upon our rights. By empowering the Attorney General of the United States to go after foreign infringing websites, this legislation becomes a necessary tool to ensure that U.S. companies remain competitive in the world marketplace. I recognize that there are technical concerns with the enforcement of this bill that need to be addressed. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the United States Senate to ensure that this legislation protects the Constitutional rights of Americans and does not stifle lawful free speech or innovation on the internet.

Thank you again for writing to express your concerns, and I hope that you keep in touch with my office regarding future legislation. For more information on this and other important issues, please visit my website at http://gillibrand.senate.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter.


Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senator

I was floored. I had no idea that she was in support of this awful rights-shattering legislation. So I sat and stewed on it for awhile. On November 16th, after mentally composing and rewriting (and probably seeing a well-written article for inspiration, if not outright copied), I sent the following, to which I have received no reply:

Ms. Senator,
I believe that your backing of this bill is well-intentioned, but ultimately misinformed. As written, PROTECT-IP and SOPA betray more than a decade of US policy and advocacy of Internet freedom by establishing a censorship system not only reminiscent of, but actually implemented by countries that we perceive as non-free - specifically Iran and China.

Please consult with the EFF (eff.org) about this before voting.

I understand that you want to protect American interests, but that includes the non-corporation populace, who is fundamentally underrepresented in this matter.

I sincerely hope that your sources of information regarding this issue are not Industry Lobbyists. Copyright is a contract between the creators and the public; creators are supposed to get a monopoly on their work for a period of time, but when that time expires, those works are supposed to be released into the public domain to become part of our shared culture.

Respectfully Submitted

In the meantime, her Twitter stream has been relatively quiet about the rights of private citizens and their concerns over censorship.

Today, around 5pm:

Thx for your views on #PIPA. I agree there are real concerns with the current legislation & I'm working to make impt changes to the bill.


We must work to strike a balance btw ending online piracy to protect #NY #jobs & ensuring Internet freedom so our tech commty can flourish.

and before that, on January 12th:

Thx to all who've contacted me on #PIPA. Plsd @SenatorLeahy has addressed concerns & improved bill re: DNS provisions.

but back as far as July, no more mentions of "PIPA" or "Piracy", and nothing at all on "SOPA".

I really do believe that she attempts to do what she believes is right, and I hope that it is just that she is ignorant and misinformed of the implications. But as many have said before, and more eloquently than I, this is horrifically bad rights-and-due-process-stealing legislation.

Sadly, her recent words strike me as meaningless, wishy-washy, not-quite backpedaling meant to appease the masses. I don't get a sense that she understands the implications, or cares to.

As Joshua Timberman so eloquently put it:

Let's stop lying to ourselves and call legislation "bipartisan" when it reflects the actual parties: The People and The Corporate Interests.


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