November 19, 2017

Hatch "Clarifies" His Position

Senator Orrin Hatch issued a short press release yesterday, backtracking from his previous (mis-)statement about remedies for copyright infringement. There are some interesting tidbits in the release, which I quote here in full, with the surprising bits italicized:

HATCH COMMENTS ON COPYRIGHT ENFORCEMENT

Washington – Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today issued the following statement:

“I am very concerned about Internet piracy of personal and copyrighted materials, and I want to find effective solutions to these problems.

“I made my comments at yesterday’s hearing because I think that industry is not doing enough to help us find effective ways to stop people from using computers to steal copyrighted, personal or sensitive materials. I do not favor extreme remedies – unless no moderate remedies can be found. I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies.”

We can assume that every word of the release was chosen carefully, since it was issued in writing by Hatch’s office to clarify his position after a previous misstatement.

It’s significant, then, that he wants technology to prevent not only copyright infringement but also “piracy” of “personal or sensitive” information.

Note also that he does not entirely disavow his previous statement that appeared to advocate vigilante destruction of the computers of suspected violators – he still favors “extreme remedies” if “moderate remedies” prove infeasible, an eventuality that seems likely given his apparent belief that we have no moderate remedies today.

If the mainstream press is paying attention, they ought to find this alarming, since much of what they do involves collecting and publishing information that some people would prefer to call “personal or sensitive”. If “extreme remedies” for copyright infringement are a bad idea, “extreme remedies” for making truthful statements about other people are even worse.