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Congressman on Reddit Proposes Moratorium on Internet Laws

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 04, 2012 4:59 AM

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

Perhaps concerned about the potential for further iterations of anti-piracy laws, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) has proposed on Reddit legislation called the Internet American Moratorium Act (IAMA). The IAMA would seek to put an end to further Internet legislation for two years.

Indeed, part of the bill reads as follows:

"It is resolved in the House of Representatives and Senate that they shall not pass any new legislation for a period of 2 years from the date of enactment of this Act that would require individuals or corporations engaged in activities on the Internet to meet additional requirements or activities. After 90 days of passage of this Act no Department or Agency of the United States shall publish new rules or regulations, or finalize or otherwise enforce or give lawful effect to draft rules or regulations affecting the Internet until a period of at least 2 years from the enactment of this legislation has elapsed."

Whatever the motivation behind the IAMA, the bill is incredibly broad. Language like "engaged in activities on the Internet" and "affecting the Internet" sweep up so many aspects of daily life as the world has moved online for business, pleasure, education, government, and more.

Would Congress seriously consider broadly tying its own future hands in barring legislation for two years?

And, even if Congress did so, what would stop Congress from changing its mind down the road with legislation undoing the proposed IAMA?

But if Rep. Darrell Issa's true intent in floating the IAMA was to get public attention and to get people involved in considering the legislative process, he certainly has done that. By proposing the bill on Reddit, Issa achieved immediate public discourse and he certainly attracted attention.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP (http://www.duanemorris.com) where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is http://www.sinrodlaw.com and he can be reached at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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