Republican Congressman from California Darrell Issa is now accepting questions and comments related to a bill that aims to "create a two-year moratorium on any new laws, rules or regulations governing the internet" in the form of a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread. He will begin responding to the questions on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
The Internet American Moratorium Act (IAMA), information of which is available here, seeks to prevent any government regulation of the internet for the two-year period, save for the purpose of national security.
SEC. 4. NATIONAL SECURITY EXEMPTION.
- (a) PRESIDENTIAL NOTIFICATION. - Upon notification to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Intelligence Committees and Homeland Security Committees by the President of the United States, or his designee, of an existential threat to the Internet, the President may, for the purposes of addressing this threat, allow agencies to promulgate rules that have otherwise been suspended by this Act.
- (b) LIMITATION. - This exemption in no way allows the President to compel an agency or department to promulgate any rules or regulations that have not already otherwise been implemented into law.
Issa, who proposed the bill, stood in staunch opposition to the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) last year. However, he was also a cosponsor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), and in both 2001 and 2005 he voted in favor of the controversial PATRIOT Act.
In the first two hours after the post was published on Reddit, the request received nearly 400 comments. At press time, the top comment, which was posted by user FriedBizkit and had earned 970 upvotes from fellow Reddit users, asks the Congressman to explain the federal government's repeated attempts to oversee the world wide web, which have been met with controversy.
Answer this question...why are so many in Washington so eager to mess with the internet? To keep us safe? From what? To abide the Hollywood lobbyists? To prevent future whistle-blowing hackers from forcibly creating transparency? To make spying on us easier? Why are you so interested in controlling the internet?
Though the Congressman identifies himself as a supporter of free speech and deregulation of the internet, declaring "together we can make Washington take a break from messing w/ the Internet," it'll be interesting to see how he responds to that question.
Especially given Reddit's role in the anti-censorship protests stemming from the introduction of SOPA and the Protect IP Act in early 2012, the AMA should attract plenty of attention.
It's also not the first time Reddit's online press-conference-style discussion thread has entered the political world. In late August, President Barack Obama held a 30-minute Reddit AMA as part of his successful re-election campaign.