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Issa's Brain: What the Congressman Said During a Reddit Q&A

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, March 7 2012

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has been answering questions on Reddit today, particularly in his capacity as a member of the House Judiciary Committee where he has been outspoken against SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. In his introduction to the community, he called himself an "Internet defender and techie." Which led nearly immediately to questions about his support of the Research Works Act.

One user asked how issue could call himself a "techie" when he supported the Research Works Act, legislation that would have limited the ability of the administration to mandate federally funded research be made public — and thus angering a mix of scientists and open-culture advocates hope for a world where broader access to scientific inquiry accelerates advancement. In his reply, he emphasized the need to preserve intellectual property as well as to make publicly-funded data more available:

"As most people know, the draft Research Works Act intended to standardize and harmonize government's copyright recognition of author," Issa wrote. "It was poorly written and now Rep Maloney and I have withdrawn it. But understand, it is always going to be complex and hard to find the right balance between individual creation/invention and government/the people's rights."

Even though he spoke proudly about his efforts to stop SOPA and PIPA, he also warned that the struggle over such legislation is not over:

The proponents of SOPA/PIPA/ACTA have not quit. They're only reloading, and working behind-closed-doors to achieve similar policies in Congress and with the Obama Administration. Internet advocates need to be ever-vigilant for policies that impact individual freedom and the way the Internet we know and love - and all the great things that work off of it - works today

As is the fashion for IamAs, as these Reddit "I am a ____" sessions are called, Issa was asked — and fielded — several more personal questions. He revealed that he uses Android but his iPad is his "go-to mobile device" and name-checked others in a bipartisan network of allies in Congress who seem to share like mind more often than they disagree in matters of technology policy, including Black Farenthold, Jared Polis, Jason Chaffetz and Zoe Lofgren.

"Few people in Congress have private-sector tech experience like my friends Blake Farenthold & Jared Polis," he wrote. "They never got their hands dirty innovating and even really personally using technology. But there are, in fact, members who didn't work in tech pre-Congress (Jason Chaffetz and Zoe Lofgren come to mind) who do get it, championing policies that support tech/innovation...particularly protecting the Internet.

"As far as educating Congress, what you all dropped on Congress on January 18 was incredibly edifying for them, forcing them to take a hard look at what they know, think they know and don't know about tech," he continued.

While he said that he supports "free speech at all levels almost to the absolute extreme," he said he felt that Wikileaks was over the line. "[They] didn't live up to the responsibility of being true whistleblowers. What Wikileaks did served no legitimate purpose towards stopping government abuses and ended up putting people's live in jeopardy."

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