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Tech at Night: A lot of tech legislation I hate, and a big win against the Fairness Doctrine

Tech at Night

With fourteen articles to run through tonight, a near record, I don’t have time to waste.

We’ll start with Joshua Trevino bringing us Bill Peacock on the Texas Amazon Tax. Texas SB 1 contains the tax Governor Perry already vetoed this session, and it needs defeated again. Says Peacock: “Gov. Perry was right to veto the Amazon tax bill, and he’d be right if he did it again. Staying focused on downsizing Texas government is the only way to keep Texas as the top job producing state in the nation.”

In national bills that need stopped, patent reform still looms over our heads. This bill,t he America Invents Act, removes patent protection from the person who first invents a thing. Instead, patent protection goes to the person who first files papers with the government for the invention. Is it any wonder that patent mills like IBM, and lawyers groups like the ABA have fallen in love with it?

Another bad bill by Patrick Leahy is PROTECT IP, which would create a national censorship blacklist of sites deemed to threaten copyright or trademark interests. It’s so bad that even the LA Times has come out against it, which is notable given that the MPAA is a major force behind the bill. However Senate Republicans have rolled over and let it advance. We’ve got to get the House to do better and defeat this.

Senator Leahy isn’t stopping with the AIA or PROTECT IP, either. Now he’s continuing the terrible practice of targeting crime victims with laws seeking to punish the victims of breakins. So terrible. As I said Monday night, we need to put the perpetrators in jail, not hassle the victims. To keep the focus on the victims actually rewards the criminals by putting pressure on their enemies.

I hate to say it but Senator Schumer may have the right idea. Now, Schumer may be targeting drugs with his plans to go after Bitcoin, but as I previously covered cyberterror groups like Lulzsec also use the currency to fund their operations. Remove some financial incentives to break the law, and only good can come of that.

Now I’m not saying I necessarily approve of the specific plans Schumer has, but conceptually I much prefer going after the funding sources of crime than going after the victims.

In other cybersecurity news, not surprisingly I disagree with Google. Google supports efforts by Democrats to expand the role of Government online to place laws and regulations on security outside the role of critical infrastructure. However I believe it’s only in critical infrastructure and civil defense that there’s a justification under the Constitution and in common sense for the government to have a role at all.

And speaking of civil defense, I’m staying out on that limb and supporting efforts to hand out spectrum without auction. I mean, of the four names voting no on the bill (Olympia Snowe, Jim DeMint, Pat Toomey, and Marco Rubio), I have no problems with three of them. I respect them, but I disagree.

Not all policy decisions are easy. Civil defense spectrum and the post-9/11 recommendations are one of them. the fringe of copyright are another. I favor copyright, and I’m not about to support eliminating it specifically for foreign works just because it inconveniences some ivory tower academics and performers. I’m all for broad-based, fair copyright reductions, but not special case giveaways.

On the other hand, some issues are easy, and it’s nice to get a big win in them. So I’m celebrating a win by House Republicans Fred Upton and Greg Walden who have reached and agreement with the FCC to remove the Fairness Doctrine from the books. No more will it linger, threatening free speech. Elections have consequences.

Quick hits to finish out the night: Attention continues on Free Press’s failure to cooperate with Marsha Blackburn’s investigation into the neo-Marxist front group’s funding. Free Press’s Derek Turner testified that “Absolutely, I’d be pleased to, yes,” when asked to submit the group’s funding sources. Meanwhile, the world waits.

Greg Walden is warming up on AT&T/T-Mobile and the Universal Service Fund. He’s smartly not showing his cards early, but I’m expecting he’ll be a strong ally going forward of those of us who favor small government online and off.

Who’s responsible for blocking tethering apps on Android? Verizon or Google? Either way, critics of Apple who have held up Google as promoting an open platform alternative have egg on their faces.

Google’s embrace-and-extend of online standards continues with its new AuthorRank proposal for tracking authors of online works. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but we do need to watch for why Google wouldn’t go through open channels to propose new standards, instead of promoting them by corporate fiat.

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