The hated anti-online piracy bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) may have been killed by Web protesters in January, but the political backlash against the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is just heating up in earnest.
A group of Austin-based IT professionals have formed a new political action committee, the Alliance for Internet Freedom, expressly to take Smith down in the upcoming Texas Republican primary vote on May 29.
“The Alliance feels that Lamar Smith is the single most threat to internet freedom because of his track record,” wrote Michael Hendrix, CEO of Precise Agency, a Dallas-based viral web marketing firm and one of the IT professionals spearheading the PAC, in an email to TPM.
“[Smith’s] voting record and support for such things as HR 1981 speaks for who he really is,” Hendrix continued, referring to Smith’s controversial bill also known as the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011,” that was resoundingly criticized for its provisions that would allow for widespread surveillance of web users by ISPs and government.
“Allowing the government to monitor and store your personal email as well as Google Docs without a court order is just wrong,” Hendrix continued. “Lamar Smith’s support of this HR 1981 shows that he lacks the understanding to be writing laws that effect the internet. It is crazy to me to think that someone like Smith would not understand that emails just like postal mail should be protected by the Fourth Amendment. There are many more votes and resolutions that Smith has voted the wrong way on that scare us a great deal.”
Hendrix and the rest of his PAC are in good company: A group of users on the website Reddit (Redditors) formed their own PAC expressly to oust Smith, too, and that group, called the Test PAC, has already put up its first anti-Smith billboard in his district.
Still, Hendrix said that he hopes that whatever happens come May 29, the Alliance for Internet Freedom will evolve and continue to shape the political scene.
“The Alliance hopes to give a voice to the techies, bloggers, and IT companies nationwide that we can band together and be just as strong as say the ACLU or NRA,” Hendrix told TPM. “Since our formation we are working on registering political action committees in California, Ohio, Illinois, and Canada.”