SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith to SOPA opponents: You don’t matter

lamar smith

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chief sponsor of the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA), says that criticisms of the controversial legislation are entirely unfounded, and that the online communities that oppose the bill are illegitimate.

“The criticism of this bill is completely hypothetical; none of it is based in reality. Not one of the critics was able to point to any language in the bill that would in any way harm the Internet. Their accusations are simply not supported by any facts,” said Smith in a statement, quoted by Roll Call.

When asked about the burgeoning opposition to the bill from online communities like Reddit.com, Smith added: “It’s a vocal minority. Because they’re strident doesn’t mean they’re either legitimate or large in number. One, they need to read the language. Show me the language. There’s nothing they can point to that does what they say it does do. I think their fears are unfounded.”

There are so many things just factually wrong about Rep. Smith’s statement that it’s hard to know where to begin. So let’s just take his asinine dismissal from the top, shall we?

First, Rep. Smith says that “not one of the critics” could point to specific language in the bill that would “in any way harm the Internet.” No? What about the 83 Internet pioneers — we’re talking people like Vint Cerf, co-designer of TCP/IP; Jim Gettys, editor of the HTTP/1.1 protocol standards; Leonard Kleinrock, a key developer of the ARPANET; in other words, the very people who built the Internet — who say that SOPA (and the Protect IP Act, PIPA), “will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences” because of the bills’ requirement that Internet service providers block domain names of infringing sites.

In their letter to Congress, this group of Internet founders also argues that SOPA “will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure.” If that’s not damaging to the Internet, what is it? To Rep. Smith, it’s nothing, apparently. Hyperbole.

Rep. Smith’s own hyperbole goes against the opinion of former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker, who agrees with the Internet founders when he says that SOPA will “do great damage to Internet security, mainly by putting obstacles in the way of DNSSEC, a protocol designed to limit certain kinds of Internet crime,” among other repercussions.

Now, in terms of Rep. Smith’s statement that the anti-SOPA crowd is neither “legitimate” nor “large in number,” well, that’s so obviously false, it would be laughable if it weren’t so infuriating.

As we have mentioned before, the list of vocal SOPA opponents includes more than 850 companies, organizations and individual experts who are adamantly against the legislation’s passage — far more than appear on the House Judiciary Committee’s list (pdf) of SOPA supporters. This includes the Internet’s largest companies: Google, AOL, Facebook, eBay, LinkedIn, Mozilla, PayPal, Wikipedia, Twitter, and Tumblr (to name only a few).

The list of SOPA opponents also includes 425 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs — i.e. job creators. The editorial boards of The New York Times and Los Angeles Times are on the list, as are 39 public advocacy groups, nonprofits and think tanks who believe that SOPA will stifle freedom of speech. These are joined by 61 international human rights groups, and 116 academics and law experts from the nation’s top law schools. In short: The list of SOPA critics could not be any more legitimate.

In addition to these industry, human rights, and law experts, the anti-SOPA faction includes countless individuals — voters, as they’re called in Washington, who have sent hundreds of thousands of letters to Congress, and made nearly 90,000 calls in one day to their representatives, as Tech Dirt’s Mike Masnick reports, urging them to denounce SOPA.

For the sake of brevity, we won’t go into detail about Reddit’s apparently successful GoDaddy boycott over the company’s SOPA support, or the countless other less-public actions concerned citizens are taking to fight this bill. But it’s important for those of you on the sidelines to know that when Rep. Smith questions the legitimacy of those who oppose SOPA, he’s questioning the legitimacy of the American people, and damaging the democratic principles upon which this country relies.

Correction: ARPANET was originally misspelled as ARAPANET.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Gaming

The Teslasuit could turn Black Mirror’s terrifying ‘Playtest’ into a reality

We spoke with Teslasuit co-founder Dimitri Mikhalchuk about VR gaming at CES 2019. With all its features, the future of the Teslasuit and virtual reality look bright. And it also sounds a bit like a Black Mirror episode.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Sony’s 360 Reality Audio is the epic sound revolution you didn’t know you needed

After Sony’s utterly bizarre press conference, I almost missed what was perhaps the most impactful sonic experience at the show. Luckily, I went back to Sony’s booth on the last day of the show, only to have my mind blown.
Features

Netflix’s latest price increase heralds the end of streaming’s golden age

Netflix’s recent price rise is just the latest in a string of signs that streaming’s golden age is nearly over. As more services enter the fray, content will be further partitioned, signaling the end of streaming’s good old days.
Mobile

AT&T jumps the gun with deliberately misleading 5GE launch

As excitement about 5G networks continues to build, AT&T jumps the gun with a ridiculous and deliberate attempt to deceive the public with 5G Evolution – a speed bump that’s based on improvements to 4G tech.
Features

Netflix’s rate hike is a good thing. Wait, wait, hear us out

Upset at Netflix for raising its rates? We don't blame you. Nobody likes to pay more for anything -- even if they love that thing. But you really should be thanking the streaming entertainment giant. The hike in prices is a necessary and…
Mobile

Bezel-less phones are terrible for typing on, and it’s only going to get worse

Bezel-less smartphone screens look great, and foldable smartphones are an exciting part of the mobile future; but we don't like where the typing experience is heading because of these two trends.
Gaming

Blizzard's dismal updates to 'Diablo 3' make 'Path of Exile' the better option

'Diablo 3' season 16, the 'Season of Grandeur,' is live. It attempts to shake up the stale meta-game with a minor tweak, but it falls far short of what fans of the franchise want. Better games like 'Path of Exile' are eating Blizzard's…
Wearables

A wearable may save your life, thanks to A.I. and big data. Here’s how

Wearables are morphing from devices that send you smartphone notifications and track your fitness into gadgets that can monitor your health -- and maybe even save your life.
Gaming

'Wargroove' is a delightful tactics game that lets you recruit cute armored pups

Wargroove is a fantastical Advance Wars successor with beautiful pixelated visuals and rewarding grid-based combat. In addition to a meaty campaign, Wargroove has an intuitive map editor that lets you create robust campaigns of your own.
Smart Home

Will everything from lamps to fridges be spying on me? Yes, and I’m creeped out

With the debut of Panasonic’s HomeHawk lamp with built-in video camera, should we be concerned that everything -- from couches to dishwashers -- could soon be spying on us? Here’s why the answer to that question is yes.