Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) was one of the most outspoken opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act, and since that legislative battle, the California lawmaker has ramped up his involvement in internet issues and communities in stated support of a free and open internet. Now, he's proposing a big legislative time-out in the form of a moratorium on new internet regulations for the next two years. It's certainly a bizarre move considering that Congress typically doesn't vote away its ability to do its job, but it's a defensive tactic that could resonate with an internet audience that expressed concern about having to play whack-a-mole with bad internet laws following SOPA.
The bill, named The Internet American Moratorium Act (IAMA), is currently just a "discussion draft" — which means that it's got a long way to go before even being considered for a vote by Congress. The bill's provisions are extremely broad, and would pretty much put a stop to all internet lawmaking:
SEC. 3. MORATORIUM ON NEW LAWS, REGULATIONS, OR RULES.
It is resolved in the House of Representatives and Senate that they shall not pass any new legislation for a period of 2 years from the date of enactment of this Act that would require individuals or corporations engaged in activities on the Internet to meet additional requirements or activities. After 90 days of passage of this Act no Department or Agency of the United States shall publish new rules or regulations, or finalize or otherwise enforce or give lawful effect to draft rules or regulations affecting the Internet until a period of at least 2 years from the enactment of this legislation has elapsed.
A blanket ban on internet legislation probably isn't a good thing, even if it gives Congress a little more time to educate itself on internet issues: the law would require both Congress and federal agencies, like the FCC for instance, to put a halt on internet regulation. That would mean the FCC's critically received Open Internet regulations would have to sit still for another two years (which might not be a problem for Republicans, like Issa, who oppose net neutrality). It would also mean that the government would be unable to make new demands of companies like Facebook and Google to ensure the privacy of their customers through new regulations.
While it's unlikely that Congress will agree to give up its powers in this instance, it's clear that Reddit is becoming a high-value target for ambitious lawmakers: it's the second time this month that a member of Congress has submitted legislation to the community for feedback. That's certainly good news for Reddit's top brass, who kicked off an escalating series of political actions starting with SOPA that culminated in a cross-country internet freedom bus tour. Issa plans to hold an "ask me anything" session tomorrow on Reddit to answer questions about the bill.
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