Congress answers White House cell phone call

There are many in Washington itching for a shot at the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions generally who may try to seize on the bi-partisan support for cell phone unlocking as a vehicle to re-open the law.

Today in Connected Consumer

The “SOPA Spring” is in full bloom in Austin, where the South by Southwest conference opens to day. With the tech world still flush with success after defeating SOPA on Capitol Hill, several startups at this year’s confab hope to capitalize on the new found political engagement to grab a role in this year’s political campaigns. Back on Capitol Hill, however, the SOPA Winter still has Congress in its icy grip. Congress has become so shy of a SOPA-like backlash that progress on any tech-related legislation has become almost impossible. Even Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the heroes of the anti-SOPA fight, is having trouble getting traction for his SOPA-alternative bill as members sour on the whole topic.

PIPA and SOPA votes shelved. Your move, web.

Updated. Sens. Harry Reid and Lamar Smith will postpone the scheduled votes on PIPA and SOPA. The moves are a big victory for the millions that oppose the bills on the grounds that they are too far-reaching in their attempts to curb piracy.

Tech gets its day in Congress as SOPA fight continues

Representative Darrell Issa has called a Jan. 18 hearing that will bring more voices from the technology industry to Washington D.C,. to discuss how legislation such as the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would affect the Internet.

SOPA interest by the numbers (and the end of the hearing)

Congressman Darrell Issa, an opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act, said 157,767 people from more than 150 counties watched some portion of the House’s markup hearing held on Thursday to debate the bill. The hearing has adjourned, but could resume as soon as next week.

Today in Connected Consumer

With one day to go before the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, the maneuvering around the bill is going hot and heavy. On Tuesday, committee chair and chief sponsor of the bill Rep. Lamar Smith introduced a so-called manager’s amendment that tweaked a few of the most controversial in hopes of peeling off some the opposition to the overall bill. Advocacy groups in Washington that were opposing bill were unimpressed, however, and are still opposing it. Several tech heavyweights, including Google’s Sergey Brin, eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, along with some leading VCs from Sand Hill Road, fanned out across Capitol Hill yesterday to try to rally opposition to the bill. Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa today is expected formally to introduce the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, an alternative bill designed to give Congressional opponents of SOPA a vehicle for voting in support of an anti-piracy measure without having to vote for SOPA itself. Your tax dollars at work.

The danger of politicians backing high risk startups

In light of the news that Republican Representative Darrell Issa once called for Department of Energy support for now-struggling electric car maker Aptera, I’m resurfacing my essay on the danger of politicians backing high risk startups.