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CISPA is Back; All Your Data Are Belong to Us

February 14, 2013 - by Donny Shaw

Barely a year after the defeat of SOPA, Congress is back to testing the waters for legislation that many internet users believe to be in violation of their fundamental rights to privacy and free expression. CISPA, a bill that would make it easier for corporations and the government to share internet users' personal data, was officially re-introduced  in the House on Wednesday. It’s already being rushed forward in the legislative process. The House Intelligence Committee is holding a full hearing on the bill today at 10 am. They will hear from four witnesses -- all from the business sector and all supporters of CISPA. No experts with concerns about privacy issues were invited to address the committee.

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While the latest version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is better on privacy than CISPA, its House counterpart, it still gives corporations and the federal government broad new powers to monitor internet users, block access to websites and services, and share personal user information without due process. Unless these provisions are removed, the Participatory Politics Foundation (makers of OpenCongress) stand with EFF, Fight for the Future, Free Press and other tech-rights groups in opposing the bill.

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Stopping Congress from screwing up the Internet, again.

Earlier this year, people from all over the Internet rallied to stop SOPA and PIPA, the Internet censorship bills. That was great, but now members of Congress (and the telecom and media companies) are once again trying to destroy the Internet. With SOPA, they tried to give the government wide-ranging authority to shut down huge portions of the Internet. This time they're going to destroy the your privacy. But not if we can help it.

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CISPA Rushed to Passage

April 27, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

In a snap vote last night, the House of Representatives passed the controversial Cyberintelligence Sharing and Protection Act, more commonly known as CISPA. The final roll call was 248-168, with most of the Republicans voting in favor and most of the Democrats voting against.

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One of the things that became clear in Congress’ push to pass Hollywood’s web censorship bills is that powerful corporations and the federal government do not want the rule of law to apply on the internet. The attitude that our basic freedoms and legal protections are somehow not valid on the internet is partly just the kind of reaction you would expect from entrenched powers whenever new technologies emerge, but it’s also a response to the particular peer-to-peer features of the internet that threaten to make their key sources of power -- control of information flow -- less relevant.

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SOPA/PIPA Dead ...For Now.

January 20, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Following a day of unprecedented online protest, the web censorship bills in Congress, SOPA and PIPA, have officially been tabled. “In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act (PIPA)," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this morning.

SOPA in the House was put on hold as well. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products," said Judiciary Committee Chairman and SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith. The SOPA mark-up was scheduled to resume on Feb. 18th, but it has now officially been postponed indefinitely.

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Why SOPA and PROTECT-IP Are So Hard to Kill

November 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Last week an unprecedented coalition of tech companies, internet users, and public-interest groups came together to fight legislation that would give corporations and the government new powers to censor the internet. The numbers are impressive -- in just one day more than 1 million emails were sent to Congress and 88,000 phone calls were placed to representatives. But despite this viral, grassroots effort, the special interests behind the legislation are still winning. They have spent years working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to assemble an extensive, bipartisan network of powerful lawmakers, and they are perfectly positioned to see the bill passed and signed into law this session.

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Congressional Leaders Intro Massive E-PARASITE Act

October 27, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Powerful House Republicans and Democrats have taken two of the most unpopular bills in the Senate, combined them into one big bill, and amended them to make them even worse. Oh, and they gave the whole thing a new name -- the E-PARASITE Act.

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House Advances Internet Surveillance Bill

August 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Under the title the "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act", Congress is advancing legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement to access information about the online activities of all Americans, regardless of whether or not they are suspected of having committed a crime. By a 19-10 vote, the bipartisan bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27th, as the media frenzy around the debt ceiling debate was consuming virtually all the attention being paid to Capitol Hill. It will now move to the full House floor for a vote on passage. Unless perceptions of the bill shift dramatically, it is expected to pass and move to the Senate.

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About the only things getting real bipartisan love in Congress these days are Hollywood-backed bills to make the government a more powerful force in online copyright enforcement. I wrote about one already that would make streaming of copyrighted content a felony with jail time as a possible penalty. The other is S.968, the PROTECT IP Act,that would empower the Department of Justice to demand search engines and domain registries to block websites they determine are "dedicated to infringing."

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Website Takedown Bill to be Reintroduced

May 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

COICA, the Democrats' bill from last year to let the government shutdown websites they deem to be involved in copyright infringement, has been rewritten and made even broader. Ars Technica reports that the bill will be introduced soon, under a new name, the "PROTECT IP Act," and with some new provisions that would require search engines to get involved in the domain blocking game as well.

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The Federal Communications Commission doesn't have a great record when it comes to protecting net neutrality, but they're still our best line of defense against a telecom industry that's hell-bent on creating a tiered internet that restricts how people who can't afford premium access can use the web. Republicans in the House, however, are looking to take the FCC off the beat entirely and leave all decisions concerning fairness and access on the internet up to the telecoms and Congress.

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Wyden Vows to Kill the Internet Censorship Bill

November 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act has all the qualities of a bill on the fast track for becoming law. Its chief sponsor is the chairman of the committee it was referred to, it has a long list of bipartisan cosponsors, including a mix of conservative and liberal senators, and it was reported out of committee by a unanimous 19-0 vote. But, last Friday, Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR] threw a log in its path by announcing that he would do everything within his means to stop the bill if it is brought to the Senate floor.

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Should Congress Go Paperless?

March 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Currently, when a bill is introduced into Congress, the Government Printing Office prints five copies of the text for each co-sponsor. That means that for H.R. 3962, the House's health care bill, which is 2,070 pages long and has 7 total sponsors, the GPO printed out a total of 72,450 pages. That's 151 reams.

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