|Mercury News - SOPA defeat a victory for tech, but influence will remain muted|
|Wednesday, 25 January 2012 00:00|
Rep. Eshoo recently spoke to Chris O'Brien, a tech columnist for the Mercury News, about the next steps for opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). An excerpt of the article is below:
The tech world was filled with euphoric talk over the weekend following the defeat of the dreaded SOPA legislation. It was a new day for tech, some declared, demonstrating the industry's clout on Capitol Hill and pointing toward a strategy that would allow tech greater influence.
Alas, it's not true.
"This is a victory of the grass roots," said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, when we talked Tuesday. "I believed from the outset ... once the users of the Internet became engaged, they could make the dome of the Capitol melt down on members' heads."
Imagine, though, if Google had been on one side of the SOPA debate while Facebook was on another. Users facing conflicting messages would either have to delve into the details or tune out the discussion, which probably would have been the more likely outcome.
The stop SOPA campaign is also noteworthy because it was not directed by a grand design launched by the large companies, but came from the bottom up, from small companies and independent Internet activists.
They started a wildfire of opposition with companies such as Google and Facebook adding their voice as the movement reached a crescendo.
The result was powerful, Eshoo said, because members of Congress react far more quickly when real people are writing and calling their offices in large numbers rather than what appears to be "astroturf" campaigns that seem to be driven by large companies spending money to gin up support.
"Anyone can go hire an outfit to blast out 10,000 robocalls," Eshoo said. "But this was something you can't buy. It's a textbook classic for everyone to appreciate, the power of the Internet and its users."
But creating such genuine grass-roots fervor can be a tricky exercise. And it's not a strategy that Eshoo expects to be deployed very often, particularly by larger companies that might see it as too risky to try to turn their users into a grass-roots army that might be hard to keep in line.
"You have to pick and choose your battles," Eshoo said. "And I think the larger companies become, the more cautious they become. The small guys, they're scrappy."
So, a cautionary message amid the euphoria. It's only by believing that this moment means more than it does in terms of tech's political reach that we will turn today's euphoria into tomorrow's disappointment.
To read the full article, please click here.
|Thomas Bill Search|