Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

The Issa/Wyden OPEN Bill Debuts On New Legislative Markup Tool

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, December 8 2011

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) today released the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act — OPEN for short — on a new microsite, Keepthewebopen.com, using the House Oversight Committee-commissioned Madison platform for public markup of legislation.

OPEN is focused around the idea that any website primarily used for infringing on copyrights, and with a non-U.S. domain name, shouldn't be making money in the U.S. The bill OPEN is proposed to replace, the Stop Online Piracy Act, also proposes that payment providers be obliged to stop doing business with so-called foreign, copyright-infringing websites — but it goes farther to say that search engines and domain-name registrars should also stop routing their traffic, which has spurred cries of censorship and concern that American legislation would fundamentally change the entire Internet. The OPEN legislation would instead allow the International Trade Commission to issue cease-and-desist orders against offending sites, obliging payment providers to stop doing business with them.

Madison is also an interesting first: A sitting member of the has House green-lit a project, overseen by his committee staff, to open up a new bill for public markup by anyone, and allow anyone to share their comments and revisions. Now that project is up and running, sorta: I was able to create and account and log in, but that came despite an error message informing me my account creation had failed.

When I previewed Madison's arrival yesterday, I wrote that it was met with applause from open-government types because it signaled a willingness from House Republicans and their leadership to try new things around transparency and open government. That's still true. But on day one, they're also pointing out ways the site could improve. The terms for the site warn the user that anything they write on it will become public domain — but the code itself is proprietary. Meanwhile, OpenCongress' David Moore points out that the code that powers his organization's website, which also allows users to comment on individual provisions of bill text, is open source and has been available for some time. In theory, this means the Oversight staff could have started from that code and built on it instead of beginning from scratch. The code being proprietary means that while people like Moore might be able to make suggestions, they can't just download it, make their own changes and submit them for community review — which they'd happily do at little or no cost for a project released under an open-source license.

"Get that code on GitHub," Moore wrote on Twitter. "We'll do OpenID" — an open login standard through which users could log in with their Google accounts, for instance — "fix the design."

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

First POST: Outgassing

How Beijing is throttling expressions of solidarity with the Hong Kong democracy protests; is the DCCC going overboard with its online fundraising tactics?; SumOfUs's innovative new engagement metric; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

With Vision of Internet Magna Carta, Web We Want Campaign Aims To Go Beyond Protest Mode

On Saturday, Tim Berners-Lee reiterated his call for an Internet Magna Carta to ensure the independence and openness of the World Wide Web and protection of user privacy. His remarks were part of the opening of the Web We Want Festival at the Southbank Centre in London, which the Web We Want campaign envisioned as only the start of a year long international process underlying his call to formulate concrete visions for the open web of the future, going beyond protests and the usual advocacy groups. GO

First POST: Lifestyles

Google's CEO on "work-life balance"; how CloudFlare just doubled the size of the encrypted web; Dems like Twitter; Reps like Pinterest; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Showdown

How demonstrators in Hong Kong are using mobile tech to route around government control; will the news penetrate mainland China?; dueling spin from Dems and Reps on which party's tech efforts will matter more in November; and much, much more. GO

friday >

Pirate MEP Crowdsources Internet Policy Questions For Designated EU Commissioners

While the Pirate Party within Germany was facing internal disputes over the last week, the German Pirate Party member in the European Parliament, Julia Reda, is seeking to make the European Commission appointment process more transparent by crowdsourcing questions for the designated Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society and the designated Vice President for the Digital Single Market. GO

First POST: Dogfood

What ethical social networking might look like; can the iPhone promise more privacy?; how Obama did on transparency; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Sucks

How the FCC can't communicate; tech is getting more political; Facebook might see a lawsuit for its mood manipulation experiment; and much, much more. GO

More