Reddit makes gross mistakes trying to write bill to replace abusive SOPA, PIPA

Input from everyone? Mob rule! Grass-roots activism? No one's getting paid!


It's hard to criticize or dismiss an effort designed specifically to address the weaknesses in a widely hated law that was designed to address a problem widely acknowledges as real and serious, though only a fraction as serious as the "victims" claim it is.

The Free Internet Act (which might also be the Internet Freedom Act, depending on who you read) isn't quite ready for a final vote in Congress yet.

There's even some disagreement over whether the Free Internet Act should be an international treaty instead of a U.S. law.

There is a central principle, however:

The Internet Freedom Act: To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation by preventing the restriction of liberty and preventing the means of censorship. IFA will allow internet users to browse freely without any means of censorship, users have the right to free speech and to freeknowledge; we govern the content of the internet, governments don’t. However enforcements/laws must also be put into place to protect copyrighted content. – Redditors at r/fia, Feb. 1, 2012

Despite good intentions, Reddit has made some critical errors in its relatively chaotic, democracy-by-potential-flamewar process of developing legislation:

  • First, unlike the primary congressional sponsors of SOPA and PIPA, Reddit didn't get the campaign money up front. Waiting to approve of a bill until it passes – even though you're being paid to believe in it – is an unprofitable sellout – the worst kind.
  • Second, it got no agreement for ongoing "support" (more donations) from the interested parties (on both sides) to keep the bill from getting even worse.
  • Third: Reddit is not only developing its legislation in public, it's letting members of the public take part, even take primary roles.

In the current version of the national political rulebook, the only people allowed to propose or comment on impending legislation are giant campaign donors and little old ladies (ringers planted in the audience by campaign staffs) who make pity-inducing comments on camera at campaign rallies.

On the campaign trail, any candidate or party that conducted such a public debate, exposing their plans, weaknesses and goals in the process, would be either held up to ridicule or tromped into the mud.

Proposing a solution? How weak!

Reddit's legislation has absolutely no chance of being taken seriously by more than a few gadflies in Congress.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters/Tony Gentile

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