Chris Dodd: These anti-SOPA websites are abusing their power

posted at 3:40 pm on January 18, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Oh, the hypocrisy! But what did you expect Chris Dodd to say? That anti-SOPA websites are doing all of us a service by standing up for free speech? Not likely. Still, it’s unfailingly astonishing that politicians like Dodd are so capable of saying the things they say without the slightest trace of irony. Nate Nelson of UnitedLiberty.org brings us the story:

The MPAA selected Dodd as its new head lobbyist chairman and CEO last year. Now Dodd is taking aim at Wikipedia, Google, and other websites involved in today’s protest against the SOPA/PIPA internet censorship legislation pending in Congress:

“It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and 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.”

Did you get that? The man whom the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) once called one of the most corrupt members of Congress thinks the websites that are protesting SOPA/PIPA today are abusing their power. Speaking for the motion picture industry, he accuses these websites of “skewing the facts … in order to further their corporate interests.” I wonder what Dodd thinks his angle is here? Trust me, I know abuse of power? That Dodd is serving as the commander-in-chief of the Hollywood forces seeking to censor the Internet illustrates how important today’s protest really is. We’re fighting an uphill battle and need all the media attention and popular support we can muster. You can bet it’s no accident that less than a year after the MPAA hired a former five-term senator as its chief executive we’re seeing this heavy-handed anti-piracy legislation that the MPAA so desperately wants.

But wait — maybe Chris Dodd has a highly compelling justification for SOPA that helps us to understand why he thinks websites willing to sacrifice a day of hits to stand against it are so power-abusive? Actually, he does. According to Dodd, we shouldn’t care that the government wants to censor the Internet. After all, communist China does it.

Seriously. That is his justification. From an article in Variety magazine late last year:

Dodd, who assumed his post in March, notes that the idea of blocking sites is by no means unprecedented. Other supporters of the legislation note Internet providers already block criminal content like child pornography. Citing a more controversial practice, Dodd notes “When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites.”

While he was in the Senate, Dodd supported net neutrality, and we know from Dodd-Frank, too, that he’s regulation-happy. His support for SOPA comes as no surprise — but the hypocrisy of his criticism of SOPA-critical websites still appalls.

Incidentally, I do disagree with United Liberty’s Nelson on one point. At this point, I think the momentum is actually on the side of the anti-SOPA folks. Granted, if players like Chris Dodd are involved, the pro-SOPA contingent might find an unfair way to push this through — and Harry Reid remains committed to the passage of the Senate equivalent, PIPA — but Darrell Issa has said SOPA won’t make it out of committee until some kind of “consensus” is reached, Marco Rubio recently withdrew his support for PIPA and then, too, those “irresponsible” websites that blacked out today are awakening all kinds of awareness.


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