Author of USA Freedom Act Says “Nobody’s Got to Use the Internet”

As a number of outlets have reported, at a town hall last week, Wisconsin’s Jim Sensenbrenner told a constituent, asking about her congressman’s vote to overturn Obama’s broadband privacy rules, said, “Nobody’s got to use the Internet.”

“Facebook is not comparable to an ISP. I do not have to go on Facebook,” the town hall meeting attendee said. But when it comes to Internet service providers, the person said, “I have one choice. I don’t have to go on Google. My ISP provider is different than those providers.”

That’s when Sensenbrenner said, “Nobody’s got to use the Internet.” He praised ISPs for “invest[ing] an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now.” He then said, “I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make the choice.”

It’s of course an absurd comment. It is difficult to get a job in this day and age without Internet access; it’s hard to find a place to live. It’s not a matter of convenience, at this point it is necessary to be on the Internet to be a fully integrated citizen.

But note why Sensenbrenner said this: he pitched it in terms of the beneficent ISP providers who have kindly provided us all gateways to the Internet.

What no report I’ve seen has noted is that Sensenbrenner also happens to be the author of the USA Freedom Act as passed. In spite of his key role in defeating prior efforts to shut down the PATRIOT Act dragnets, Sensenbrenner managed to pose as a privacy advocate (making horseshit claims about knowing about the dragnet) so as to push through a bill that took the heat off telecoms, all while making more innocent Americans’ data available to NSA’s analytical maw.

Here, he reveals his true colors, a completely unrealistic view of the importance of the Internet on actual human beings.

5 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I suppose it’s possible that Sensenbrenner is not an ignorant ass, and that he knows that an e-mail address and ready internet access are required for the most mundane tasks: keeping in touch with family, friends and co-workers; applying for all but the most menial jobs; dealing with employers, insurance companies, and government tax authorities; and communicating with public officials.

    It’s possible that he’s selling to the anti-intellectual, anti-corporate, anti-establishment crowd – as if he were not now a charter member of the establishment. More likely, he wants us to accept the “Nothing to see here, now move along” passivity that makes his job as a public employee – although one heavily subsidized by private industry lobbying and “fund raising” – so much easier. Mr. Sensenbrenner seems to be a caricature of an alternative congresscritter.

    • Rayne says:

      You’re very generous. The man hasn’t had a job outside the public sector, going directly from law school to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1969. He really has little idea what the rest of the world requires of individuals to be employable in private sector.

      I’m only surprised he hasn’t referred to the internet as a series of tubes nobody needs. Thank goodness he hasn’t been involved with the House Committee on Science and Technology since 2001. He couldn’t keep up with the pace of change. Hope Wisconsin retires him in 2018.

  2. John Casper says:

    Thanks ew.

    I tweeted your piece to the Congressman, Jake Tapper, Brietbart’s John Carney, and Gannett’s Washington correspondent for Wisconsin–Craig Gilbert.

  3. SpaceLifeForm says:


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