We can all agree that the Internet has changed the world, and every aspect of living in it, mostly for the better. Innovation, entrepreneurship, communication, and information have been completely transformed in just a few short years. Of course, our treasured principles of free speech and intellectual property rights must be balanced and considered in a whole new way as well.
In recent years, Internet service providers or ISPs (such as cable and telephone companies) have tussled with Internet content providers (such as major websites and file sharing sites) about the concept of “net neutrality”. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published rules that require ISPs not to discriminate amongst different types of content, but I disagree with the FCC’s approach to this issue. Last year, I supported legislation that disapproved of the FCC’s net neutrality ruling.
Proper Internet policy must also include protection for copyright and intellectual property (IP) – while protecting free speech rights. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was an extreme attempt to protect large movie, music, and designer goods distributors from online pirates – but it would have given the Department of Justice broad power to shut down any website as well as the website’s partners for a single, unintentional IP violation. Those who use the Internet as an outlet to express political or controversial speech were right to be gravely concerned about how SOPA would have affected their First Amendment rights. I was pleased to see SOPA put on the shelf so that we can come together and forge a solution that protects copyrights holders and also upholds a free and innovative Internet.