Issa touts crowdsourced provisions in anti-piracy bill

Editor's note: This story was updated Feb. 7, 2012, to correct Sen. Ron Wyden's party affiliation.

Claiming a milestone in the use of crowdsourcing for legislation, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said six sections of the bill he introduced for online copyright protection include contributions made online by members of the public.

Crowdsourcing is defined as inviting Web users to participate in open public forums to share, rank and vote on ideas and comments about a topic. The White House and General Services Administration have spearheaded several crowdsourcing initiatives on the IdeaScale platform.

Issa invited public input into a draft version of legislation he authored, the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act. The lawmaker established a website,, in December which had collected 93 comments and 67 comments on the draft proposal, as of Feb. 6.

Related story:

Internet piracy bills stall as outcry builds

Issa, in a statement issued Feb. 6, said he included improvements to six sections of the legislation from the users’ comments.

“Internet users generated improvements to six sections of the OPEN Act, representing the first-ever legislative markup truly open to the American public,” Issa said in the statement.

While both the draft and final versions of the OPEN Act appeared to be available at, an FCW staff writer was not able to access the draft version to compare the two, due to an apparent malfunctioning Web link on Feb. 6. A call to Issa's office was not returned by press time.

Issa’s proposal was developed with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., as a possible alternative to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Senate companion, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both of which stalled recently due to a groundswell of opposition, with numerous website blacked out for a day in protest. SOPA and PIPA won support from the film, publishing and recording industries, but was opposed by technology companies and civil libertarians as being too restrictive of freedom of speech and innovation online.

Issa said his crowdsourcing experience was intended “to empower those shut out from the process that produced SOPA and PIPA. It is an ongoing experiment in direct digital democracy, but the introduced version of the OPEN Act is proof that crowdsourcing can deliver better bills and a more accountable government."

Under the OPEN Act, a process would be established through the International Trade Commission to cut off the flow of funds from online advertising and payment processors to websites that sell stolen intellectual property.

While the alternative bill has been endorsed by more than two dozen lawmakers, content makers are said to view it as too narrow in how it defines copyright-infringing websites.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image: looking for code.

    How DOD embraced bug bounties -- and how your agency can, too

    Hack the Pentagon proved to Defense Department officials that outside hackers can be assets, not adversaries.

  • Shutterstock image: cyber defense.

    Why PPD-41 is evolutionary, not revolutionary

    Government cybersecurity officials say the presidential policy directive codifies cyber incident response protocols but doesn't radically change what's been in practice in recent years.

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

Reader comments

Sun, Mar 4, 2012

It seems to me that "importance" is in the eye of the beholder and correct me if I am wrong but keeping the freedom of the internet is a pretty important thing to many Americans - many more Americans than those which are contained in Hollywood.

Tue, Feb 7, 2012

We have far more important issues to deal with than protecting the interests of Hollywood. No doubt the sponsors of this bill will get a hefty boost to their reelection coffers. Corporate lobbying and campaign contributions need to be eliminated. Our government is owned and operated by big business.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group