cr> Let’s Start a Cyber-Rights PAC


Richard Moore

Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996
Sender: Joel Hoff <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Let's Start a Cyber-Rights PAC

In response to your cyber-rights movement concerns, Richard:

Regarding the Cyber-Rights working group, I've been one of those semi-active
lurkers: I haven't posted to this list before, but I communicate significant
events to about 15 people that I know, most of whom I've been able to mobilize
into making phone calls to Congress at one point another regarding the CDA.

I very much would like to contribute to a serious effort to impress upon
Congress the need to stop playing knee-jerk politics with the Internet and
other telecommunications issues.  The time has come to target some of the
key culprits in the Senate and the House.

I don't think it's unreasonable to start a Cyber-Rights PAC: I believe the
CDA opposition is fairly bipartisan, and I think there are enough of us that
feel strongly about this topic to dump ANYONE in Congress who voted for the
CDA, regardless of their party affiliation.  I'm a Republican "swing voter"
who has yet to find a fellow party member in Congress that voted for this
thing (all of them but one in the House, I think) that has enough other
merits to spare him/her from losing office over this.

Unfortunately, I'm a graduate student without much in the way of financial
means.  $100 is about the limit of what I can contribute to such a cause.
What does it take to be taken seriously as a PAC? $1 million? $10 million?
more?  I would think at least 10,000 net-users exist who would be willing
to pay the same on average--a decent modem costs $100, so why not pay the
same to fight for your right to make free use of it?  However, this only
reaches the $1 million mark; could we really mobilize 100,000+ people to
contribute a $100 each for that $10+ million level?  I'm willing to try
to persuade the folks I know in my little circle: the grassroots potential
is there.

The apparent awakening in the mainstream press is gratifying, but their
attention span is notoriously short.  The only part of S.652/HR1555 to really
catch their attention was the CDA (after its passage), and I fear this will
soon fade into the background.

While I'm aware that the CDA has effectively been a smokescreen for other
serious issues in the telecom bill, it is the most provocative rallying
point that we have.  If we can't build a political movement around this,
then I can't see Congress ever really paying attention to other netizen
concerns about telecom policy.  Only the long/well-established lobbies like
large cable/telephone companies and the Christian Coalition, Family Research
Council, etc, will ever impact them if we don't pursue this.

While I care about foreign policy, economics, health care, etc, nothing
has ever tweaked my political nose as much as when Congress stepped on my
turf as a computer professional and turned a deaf ear to my concerns.  Let's
turn this New Media into a true political forum and show them why they
should REALLY fear it.

The Net's memory is long, it clearly is capable of supporting deep debates
better than any other existing medium, it supports individual research into
policy matters due to its interactive nature, and it could eventually be as
pervasive as television.  Let's build on these strengths now for the future:
we may not be effective at first, but the promise is there.

        - Joel Hoff
          Doctoral student in Computer Science

P.S.    I was at the Firing Line taping session held on the USC campus in
        Los Angeles today for a panel debate on "Should the Government
        Regulate the Internet."  Cathy Cleaver, Arianna Huffington, and William
        Buckley showed their ignorance while offering rhetoric that no doubt
        sounds reasonable to non-net-users.  John Barlow and Esther Dyson from
        EFF had some good moments but got cornered into some vague, wandering
        positions at times.  Ira Glasser of the ACLU and Susan Estrich, a USC
        law professor, helped fill these gaps with hard-cutting arguments
        and some sharp sound-bites--a well balanced panel overall.  Michael
        Kinsley (former Crossfire debater now working for Microsoft) and
        some "cultural activities director" for Fujitsu were the closest
        thing to a middleground representation.

        Not everything got the airtime it should have, but on the whole
        it was  the best television discussion/coverage I've seen of the CDA
        and cyber-rights issues.  The vast majority of the onsite audience
        was decidely opposed to CDA-type legislation in the longer, 2-hour
        format of the 3 television shows that were taped.  I'm happy to
        say that we were probably one of the rowdier audiences that Firing
        Line has had: hopefully not all of the clapping and occasional
        outbursts of laughter get filtered out at broadcast time.

Joel Hoff                                   University of Southern California
                                                  Computer Science Department
                                                 Robotics Research Laboratory
e-mail:  •••@••.•••


 Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
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