The People Trying To Ruin The Internet: Lamar Smith


Heard of CISPA?

On April 26, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 248-168 in favor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which encourages companies such as Facebook to freely share your info with cops if you seem like a “cyber threat” and basically grants them legal immunity if they do so. President Barack Obama has promised to veto the measure, saying it doesn’t do enough to protect the nation’s critical systems from cyber attacks, and “would erode consumer privacy rights.” It’s unclear whether the prospective legislation will ultimately become law. It is clear, however, that the CISPA saga sounds super familiar. (SOPA/PIPA shitshow, anyone?)

We have been regularly following internet policy developments, and figured it would be a good idea to identify the people who keep pushing for these kinds of proposals. Hence our new, occasional feature “The People Trying To Ruin The Internet.”

Today, we’re kicking off the series with our old pal, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas.)

Smith, as you might recall, pretty much started this year’s web censorship controversies: He sponsored the Stop Internet Piracy Act.

Critics immediately called the measure out as poorly written and a threat to free speech, since SOPA could have made websites liable simply for featuring links to other websites containing copyrighted media.

The internet effectively shut down in protest, and both chambers of Congress reacted to the blackout by abandoning the proposed legislation.

On that same day, Smith was outed as a copyright violator for reportedly using unlicensed photos on his website.

The congressman’s office didn’t want to speak about SOPA or respond to claims that Smith threatens a free internet. Instead, his flack pointed the Voice to a press release published in January, where Smith reiterated the dangers of “rogue websites.”

Conservations about Smith’s involvement with the bill, however, have not come to an end. As Politico reports, SOPA might screw up Smith’s re-election bid. Indeed, a cohort of Texas tech concerns has recently formed a political action committee to thwart him.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.