State of the Net West Series for 2012: Technology Town Hall Roundtable with Congressman Mike Honda

There were a lot of themes touched upon in this discussion.  I would consider it three separate discussions, that got rolled into a single roundtable.  There were short discussions on STEM education including inclusiveness, immigration reform (including HB1, DREAM Act, and other aspects), and Internet regulation (including self-regulation, SOPA, and other laws being introduced).  The participants where:

  • Eric Goldman, Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law (@ericgoldman)
  • Congressman Mike Honda (@RepMikeHonda)
  • Dana Ditmore, Oak Valley Consulting and an advocate of STEM education
  • Tim Lordan, Executive Director Internet Education Foundation / Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee (@tlordan)

STEM Education

Rep. Honda noted that STEM education should be starting earlier, e.g. in pre-K.

We are deteriorating internally, and are defeating ourself, per Rep. Honda.  We need to understand that we have to invest in this country.  Should states have the sole responsibility for education?  The Constitution does not exclude the federal government’s involvement in education.  We should have more national involvement.  The only things kids have, their only currency, is time.  It’s not something we can bank.  We need to use it wisely.  Policy makers need to understand why poor schools exist, and why we re-segregated.

Talk in policy language.  Not “all children deserve equal rights and equal opportunity,” but “each child deserves a quality education.”  Use the children’s time well.

Solving this problem is expensive, but mediocrity is not an option.  If someone imposed this level of mediocrity on us, we would consider it an act of war.  We need to invest in it, as if were a real conflict.  If all children can learn, then children in Beverly Hills and Appalachia should have the same educational opportunity.  The bumper sticker says “what is the price of ignorance.”  We see it every year, and in every legislation.

A question on the “war on science” was asked, and Rep. Honda responded that the only way to fix such systemic problem is to change the policy makers.  Also, provide education to those folks who are putting policy makers in place, to see the longterm harm to their children, and children’s children.  We don’t have a national policy to drive science and education.  We appear to have a lot of self-interest, and we forgot about our responsibility to the whole community, and the whole world.


Rep. Honda notes that we are handling immigration piecemeal, and focused on our borders.  We should instead make a comprehensive plan, addressing existing legal and illegal immigrants in the country, as well as the border.  The Congressman supported the DREAM Act, making HB1 more effective and efficient, and family reunification.

Rep. Honda called HB1, as it exist a “high tech coolie” system in which the high regulations, and the amount of power provided to the sponsor, and lack of mobility.  Dana Ditmore, of Oakvalley Consulting, a STEM education advocate, noted that we do have a single comp structure, and that Silicon Valley is driven in part by immigrant talent.  Rep. Honda noted that he does support HB1 visas, but would prefer to address it in comprehensive reform, with additional freedom for the immigrant.

Rep. Honda also noted that he was a sponsor of the DREAM Act.  With respect to the family reunification, Rep. Honda noted that he supported family reunification including same sex families.

SOPA, DMCA, and Internet Regulation

Rep. Honda notes that Congress doesn’t understand technology, or how the Internet works.  He agrees with a constituent who noted that the job of regulation and Congress in this matter is to “stay out of our way.”

Rep. Honda opposed SOPA, and in fact blacked out his own website during the protests.

Professor Goldman noted that for the first time content owners lost a fight, when SOPA was tabled by Congress.  But Rep. Honda noted early on that attempts to control the Internet will not stop.  We need to stay vigilant.

Professor Goldman further noted that the content owners are now going to anywhere but Congress.  They are going to the courts, to industry self-regulation, and to prosecutors.  The risk of self-regulation, and going outside of the legislative process, is that there is no transparency into the process, no due process.  Tim Lordan noted that there is now an Advisory Board for the industry self-regulation, which will likely provide a check on that.  Professor Goldman responded that while the Advisory Board is a good step, it has no power, and we cannot rely on the Board to keep content owners in check.


Zoe Lofgen about The State of the Net, on Sept. 19, 2011

Protect IP Act

Zoe Lofgren discussed the Protect IP Act which has a multi-pronged approach, to systemic piracy:   attack via removing the money, Visa and credit providers must cooperate; ensure no money via advertising; force ISPs to remove them from the Net: force DNS providers to remove pointers; and force search engines and other websites to remove all hyperlinks.  It also includes a private right of action to enforce these prongs.

Lofgen supports all money restriction, but worries about DNS security disruption and private right of action.  Private right of action, like with patent trolls, marking trolls, and copyright trolls, will lead to what is in effect legal extortion.

DNS issue may destroy security infrastructure (as people turn to less secure DNS providers).  A recent paper on this topic was persuasive to her.

By pushing through this legislation it will also destroy the budding cooperation between content providers and web infrastructure companies, which will lead to bad results.

Lofgren’s advice:  Follow the Money. We can develop a scheme to prohibit profit, and we can do this without destroying network security.  This will handle almost all of the issues.

State of the net is challenged.

Lofgren opposes Protect IP Act (because of DNS, search engine/website, and private right of action), but is only one of a handful in the House. Senate would likely also pass it, except for Wyden’s Senate hold.

HR1981: Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act:  

This law would require ISPs to acquire name and credit card info, and retain record of all sites visited by all. ISPs would make this information available to government, without a warrant. Cover for massive expansion of govt power. It should be HR 1984, since it’s about total surveillance.

Lofgren notes that we must speak up, or this will pass. FBI wants this. Congress will give it to them, unless we speak up. Passed out of judiciary committee. Will pass, unless people speak up.


The new PTO offices should include an office in California, and the California delegation has spoken to the Commerce Department about this. They have also discussed with SJSU the possibility of providing a free location of the office, which may tilt the field toward Silicon Valley, instead of someplace cheaper.

Internet taxation:  Republican opposition to taxes in general makes this unlikely.

All Internet companies combined spend less on lobbying than one single phone company. This explains some decisions.  Technology companies need better lobbyists, instead of flying in & flying out.

We should be concerned, because many members of Congress don’t understand how search engines, and other technologies, work. (ad in Hill paper re @Google stealing content, no real source in ad, but probably MS.)

ICE asserts jurisdiction on copyright enforcement. And they don’t know what they are doing.

DOJ owned and operated by Hollywood. Take-downs based on forfeiture rules. IP Tzar has tremendous lobbying and influence by Hollywood and Recording Industry.

ICANN to be taken over by UN?  China may wish this to assert control over the Internet via UN power, e.g. small client state votes. If we can, we should keep ICANN for free Internet.  Keep it independent is key.

She also voted against the America Invents Act, although she was one of the original sponsors of the patent act some years ago.  She has been working on this for 10 years.  But this version, in her view, has become so heavily tilted away from IP creators as to be a negative overall.

Patent Law in a Global World

Judge Rader expressed his opinions about foreign rules, and the flaws of the U.S. system in some detail. He suggested that the fundamental job of the courts is to “facilitate not frustrate marketplace.” He also strongly suggested that the U.S. must continue improving its ability to innovate, and protect innovation, and that includes the ability to enforce patent rights.

Chief Judge Randall Rader of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit spoke at Santa Clara University School of law, discussing Patent Law in a Global World.  He addressed questions from Julie Stephenson, Assistant General Counsel at Synopsys, Colleen Chien, Assistant Professor at SCU Law, and Marta Beckwith, Director of IP Litigation at Cisco Systems.

Judge Rader expressed his opinions about foreign rules, and the flaws of the U.S. system in some detail.  He suggested that the fundamental job of the courts is to “facilitate not frustrate marketplace.”  He also strongly suggested that the U.S. must continue improving its ability to innovate, and protect innovation, and that includes the ability to enforce patent rights.

Continue reading “Patent Law in a Global World”