Two thousand. That's the number of people calling their member of Congress every second last Wednesday to weigh in on important legislation affecting the future of the Internet. Yes, every second.
All told, millions of people from across the nation expressed their concerns about a bill in the House called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and a similar Senate proposal, PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Both are complicated pieces of legislation intended to combat online piracy -- an admirable goal. Unfortunately, the bills that were produced would not have stopped or even curbed online piracy. But they would have hurt innovation, hampered job growth, undermined years of effort to build the next generation Internet and posed a real threat to cybersecurity.
As word of the risks spread among entrepreneurs, investors, academics, cybersecurity experts and consumers learned about the risk, the sector came together. That is no small feat. This is an industry that has nearly 6 million jobs all throughout the nation. But it is spread across the country. It is diffuse and diverse. Still, when it comes to important policy issues -- they are committed to getting it right.
Never before has the technology sector been more unified and showed its political and organizing power to the nation as was evidenced here. More than 6,000 people every minute were signing online petitions, thousands more rallying in streets around the country -- including entrepreneurs, mayors, innovators, business leaders and so many others. In just 48 hours, the tech community had raised their voice and Congress listened. While no one group can or should dictate what happens with a particular piece of legislation -- such a groundswell deserves to be heard.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was right to postpone a procedural vote PIPA. Simply put, there is still more work to be done. In their current form, SOPA and PIPA are problematic. Both are too broadly written so they likely would result in an undermined environment for innovation in America. The technology sector remains committed to combating online piracy and we believe it is important to do everything we can to stop it.
We're proud of how our sector unified around this issue and demonstrated the power of technology for organizing and policy advocacy, yet we know that more work lies ahead.
We thank Congress for slowing down. We are ready to work together and show openness and humility to finding the right solutions.
Using this pause will enable everyone affected the chance to come back to the table to forge a solution that effectively combats online piracy without harming this incredibly dynamic information network that has enriched the lives of all Americans.
Rey Ramsey is the President and CEO of TechNet.
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