Well, well. It appears that Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) really wants to tempt fate and stick his tongue out at the internet. Beyond announcing that he’s moving forward with SOPA, he’s also continuing to mock the critics, calling the Wikipedia blackout a “publicity stunt”:
“It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act,” Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. “The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.”
Smith, as per pretty much all of his statements on SOPA is either misinformed, disingenuous… or just lying. First of all, the anti-circumvention provisions certainly do apply to domestic sites, including Wikipedia. And as a site that provides information, it could certainly run afoul of those provisions. But, more to the point, Wikipedia isn’t just speaking out because this bill impacts Wikipedia directly, but because of its wider concern over what this bill represents: a blacklist that seeks to block access to websites. You can be secure that it won’t impact you and still take issue with the principle behind the bill.
It’s a shame that Lamar Smith can’t understand that, despite so many people online understanding it. I assume some of those people may give Rep. Smith a call tomorrow to express that point to him directly.
Meanwhile… shocker of shockers, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is out with a statement using a very similar phrase concerning the blackouts. Gee, kinda makes you wonder if Lamar Smith and the MPAA are consulting on talking points:
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.
A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
This is hilarious only in that we’re talking about the MPAA here, who is famous for abusing its powers and “intentionally skewing the facts to incite” people (mainly in Congress) “in order to further their corporate interests.” Seriously, who honestly thinks that Wikipedia, Reddit and others are shutting down their sites to “further their corporate interests?” The MPAA — as per usual, remains totally, and completely tone deaf to what’s going on.
The MPAA wants SOPA to further its corporate interests. Wikipedia is a non-profit. Its interest is in stopping the MPAA from mucking up the internet, not in “furthering its corporate interests.” Once again, it would be nice if the MPAA and Lamar Smith had the decency to be honest on this issue, but they’re still working by the old playbook… the one where you lie and donate to campaigns until Congress gives you the laws you want, no matter how unnecessary or damaging they may be. They’re seriously underestimating what’s been activated online over the past few months. It’s a massive miscalculation to brush off these legitimate concerns as a publicity stunt.