EFF‘s Cindy Cohn asked Lofgren a simple question towards the end of Lofgren’s talk, questioning what we in Silicon Valley could actually do so that folks in Washington DC actually understand these issues.
Lofgren, at first, seemed unsure that anything could be done, noting that those with lots of money and hired lobbyists in DC still get heard much more than the ordinary citizen, but after talking for a bit, she did make a point clear, and it was: we need to speak up. She pointed out that in this day, a congressional rep hearing from 200 constituents (she suggests physical letters) is something that gets attention, and gets Representatives to pay attention right away.
I know that many around here are cynical about the political process — and I’d include myself in that description. We’ve seen way too many ridiculously bad laws passed by Congress to protect this or that special interest. Our government too often seems to take direction (if not dictation) directly from corporate interests. However, Lofgren does have a point: people really do need to speak up when they hear of serious problems such as domain seizures, copyright expansion and other problems.
The domain seizures, in particular seem to have received very little attention in the press. I spoke to a reporter at the event who said that his editor just didn’t think it was a topic anyone cared about. That’s scary. We’re talking about wholesale censorship by the US government — almost certainly in violation of basic free speech and due process rules. And it’s all being done by a group within the US government who’s supposed to be “protecting our borders.” It seems reasonable to question why this group is involved in straight up censorship of websites. But it’s not going to happen if people don’t speak up.