Internet Policy’s Rock Star Addresses CES

Lays out agenda to protect digital competition

Sen. Ron Wyden is practically a rock star among the Internet community. Hailed as the “Senator from the Internet,” the Democratic member from Oregon seemed to relish the accolades during his morning address kicking off the second day of the innovation policy summit at the International CES.

“The innovation that is displayed in Vegas needs to be disseminated around the world,” said Wyden, who is credited with leading Congress in stopping SOPA last year.

Like a lot of the Internet policy leaders here, Wyden also took a victory lap for his accomplishment. But he also attempted to look beyond SOPA to whatever might be the next big legislative fight to protect Internet freedom and the digital economy.

“Now everyone wants to know, since we have shown the ability to block something, what can we do to come together as advocates for digital freedom to pass legislation,” Wyden asked.

Wyden took the bulk of his address to lay out a legislative agenda, which he billed as “what the freedom to compete needs.”

Touching on a number of issues, Wyden is working with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on a bill to prevent Internet providers from blocking legal content and services. If they do, Wyden said, they should face antitrust action.

“Providers cannot pick online winners and losers,” he added.

Wyden also took on the emerging patent troll issue, arguing that the effect of software patents shouldn’t operate as a “tax on innovation.” “Policymakers need to look at this,” he said.