The big news at the confluence of technology and politics is the new Netflix political action committee, or PAC. Dubbed FLIXPAC (catchy, right?), the PAC can rain cash down on politicians, advancing the legislative agenda of its parent company.
The coverage of the PAC’s announcement outlines what that agenda is. From Politico: “And it provides Netflix with another political tool with which to aggressively press a pro-intellectual property, anti-video piracy agenda — an effort it began in earnest in 2010, when the company began heavily investing in federal lobbying efforts.” And from The Raw Story: “SOPA supporters await cash infusion from Netflix PAC.” You can gather what the firm has in mind.
TNW just published a story looking at the sum of money that Comcast spent pushing SOPA, which came to around $250,000. Netflix, in comparison, spent a total of $500,000 on lobbying in 2011. While that figure is not tied directly to SOPA and PIPA work, it does show how aggressively Netflix intends to act in Washington. And now with its own PAC, the company has more flexibility to throw its weight around.
With that sort of money, on the wrong side of things, it’s time to remember what the Internet became so upset about just a few months ago. What was it that so sparked our ire? A bill that had the potential to blacklist, disconnect, and censor. That’s the Internet trifecta from hell.
I’m almost disappointed that the push against SOPA was so heavily driven by youths. This has given protest of such bills the tinge of immodest passion, when in fact large issues loom in the debate. Maddox, a man that we very rarely quote here on TNW, had some very choice words on SOPA:
The problem isn’t this shitty bill, it’s the people who sponsored it. So we protest this bill today, bang enough pots and pans to shame a few backers into not letting this bill pass, then what? Those same dipshits who wrote this legislation still have jobs. They’re going to try again, and again, and again until some mutation of this legislation passes. They’ll sneak it into an appropriation bill while nobody’s looking during recess, because there’s too much lobbyist money at stake for them not to
The point here is that this struggle, between those who want to control the Internet and not merely deliver it, and those who want it to be open and un-tiered is not over. Netflix just reminded us of that fact. Yes, the company did reverse its stance on SOPA, claiming neutrality, after sending a letter to the US Chamber of Commerce agreeing with its spirit, but now it is back.
CISPA looms. We’ll be working on that in the near future. For now, it’s important to remember that the forces we lined up against are not gone. They aren’t even lying in wait. They were at the very next day. Keep your dukes up, mate.
Update: This post initially misstated who the alleged letter was sent to. It has been corrected.