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Rep. Darrell Issa asks Reddit's opinion on new bill

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Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is sick of all these laws that could change how the Internet might work.

So he’s got a radical solution: He asked Reddit for help in drafting a ban on any new Internet regulations for the next two years, and came to the site to speak with them Wednesday.

Issa’s words come with a pedigree: he’s one of the most openly dedicated members of Congress when it comes to protecting Internet freedom. He was one of the earliest elected officials who warned about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), he did an Ask Me Anything session with redditors months before President Obama did, and he was the first member of Congress to sign the Declaration of Internet Freedom, pledging to protect the basic principles of an open Web.

The congressman is not without his critics. They point out that he voted for the Cyber Intelligence Security Protection Act (CISPA), a bill designed to help fight cyber attacks on the U.S. but which activists have described as a “nightmare” for how it would violate citizens’ privacy. (Issa’s first response was a link to a previous explanation of why he voted for CISPA.)

Other redditors smelled foul play. While a ban on fiddling with the Internet for two years would seem to be a great way to keep Congress from screwing it up, it’s also, conspicuously, the amount of time until the next midterm election cycle. Republicans have a majority in the House (and are likely to keep it in 2014), but the Senate currently belongs to Democrats, which could change. And Issa is strongly partisan, voting along Republican lines 96% of the time.

Still, Issa was able to provide thoughtful answers to a number of redditors’ questions.

why are so many in Washington so eager to mess with the internet? (FriedBizkit)

Not everyone is chomping at the bit to break the Internet. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Rep. Jared Polis and others get it, and helped me lead the charge to stop SOPA. But it’s hard to keep in mind the big picture when it comes to an open internet, national security, and international relations. We are still in the early stages of the internet era, and Congress is trying to keep up with all aspects of supporting internet users, while protecting their individual rights from potential dangers. What this bill is hoping to do is hold off on rule-making and implementing regulations and new laws on the internet before the federal government is prepared and ready to move forward in a way that works for everyone involved - Internet users, job creators and all Americans.

Why not solve the issue in a more permanent fashion? (deleted)

It builds on a model of when we were “in power” and Chris Cox had a bill every two years that basically said “Do not tax the Internet”. He introduced this every Congress when he was in office. The concept here is broadly bipartisan and isn’t dependent on who is in power. It’s about government taking a cooling off period and allowing the Internet to continue to grow and thrive under the current rules as they are today.

So what about Internet sales tax? (esteinlauf30)

A solution that creates tax parity between walk-in stores and log-in stores is essential and is being worked on by both Houses of Congress.

Photo via @DarrellIssa/Twitter