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Congressman proposes two-year ban on Net regulation bills

Rep. Darrell Issa is pushing for a cooling-off period that would prevent the federal government from introducing new Internet regulation or bills for two years.

Charlie Osborne Contributing Writer
Charlie Osborne is a cybersecurity journalist and photographer who writes for ZDNet and CNET from London. PGP Key: AF40821B.
Charlie Osborne
3 min read

A new proposal would temporarily stop the federal government from pushing through bills and regulations on the Internet's content.

Recent attempts to regulate the Internet -- in the form of SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA -- are all dead in the water after failing in Congress. But the potential of poorly thought-out changes remains a reality.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a draft of the proposed bill, dubbed the "Internet American Moratorium Act 2012," to Project Madison on Monday. The crowdsourcing platform allows people to read and amend draft bills online, striking through text and adding commentary when appropriate.

The proposed bill would "create a two-year moratorium on any new laws, rules or regulations governing the Internet."

The Internet American Moratorium Act 2012 discussion draft reads in part:

SEC. 3. 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.

After posting to Project Madison, Issa then subsequently linked the draft bill on Reddit -- one of the Web sites that staged a 24-hour blackout last year in response to SOPA -- where users quickly voted the thread to the top.

Issa's Reddit posting states: "Together, we can make Washington take a break from messing w/ the Internet." However, this did not stop Issa, a SOPA critic, from facing criticism. One user said:

He's putting it in reddit-friendly language (we want fewer regulations on your Internet, just like you!!) even though this bill would actually prevent GOOD regulations that stop evil (or at least, profit-hungry at the expense of your freedom) ISPs.

In addition, some Reddit members asked why the SOPA-critical congressman co-sponsored CISPA, and others questioned whether anyone in Congress is qualified enough to propose legislation that would regulate Internet activity. Some considered the thread a PR stunt aimed at "gaining the popular vote," whereas another Redditor called it "cheap political theatre."

Although the introduction of SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA show that we may be a long way off from informed, reasonable Web regulation, Gizmodo's Leslie Horn notes that stopping the government from governing isn't necessarily the solution.

An unnnamed spokesman for Issa told CNN:

After SOPA and PIPA (the Senate's similar Protect Intellectual Property Act), it became very clear that we needed a cooling-off period to figure out a better way to create policy that impacts Internet users, job creators and all Americans.