This morning, EFF’s staff and concerned netizens across the country tuned into the live webcast of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261). At least we tried to. Unfortunately, we were confronted with an incredibly poor webcast stream for much of the hearing. We find it ironic and deeply concerning that Congress is unable to successfully stream video of an event this important to all Internet users, even as they are debating a dangerous plan to change the Internet in fundamental ways and deputize Internet intermediaries to act like content police.
Many of the online watchers took to Twitter to voice their concerns about being shut out of the hearing by the poor quality webcast. But the Internet community was shut out of the hearing in a more fundamental way: of the six witnesses called to testify on Congress’ plan to heavily regulate the Internet, there was only one representative of the technology sector. As Public Knowledge’s Martyn Griffen tweeted: “#SOPA Hearing internet still fading in and out. It'd be great if an internet engineer could fix the website issue in return for testifying.”
We couldn’t agree more. Congressman Lamar Smith’s office noted the poor quality webcast, telling journalist Declan McCullagh: "Our tech folks are trying to fix it, so please be patient." While the issue wasn’t resolved in time for concerned citizens across the nation to watch the testimonies, it was restored in time for the questions and answers at the end.
Recorded video from the hearing should be posted online in the next few hours. Once it’s up, we’ll post the link here and provide you with our analysis. In the meantime, we urge individuals concerned about the bill to contact their members of Congress today and take part in the American Censorship Day online actions.