The Patent Eligibility Restoration Act (PERA) would throw out Supreme Court rules that limit patents on abstract ideas. If PERA passes, it will open the floodgates for far more vague and overbroad software patents. It will even allow for patents on human genes.
No one should be allowed to take an abstract idea, add generic computer language, and get a patent. And we should never see patents on human genetic material itself. But if PERA passes, that’s exactly what will happen.
The Senate Commerce Committee is considering a bill that, in the name of children’s privacy, creates a system of private surveillance that would force platforms to collect more information on every user, further invading their privacy in the process. The “Kids Online Safety Act” (KOSA) would make platforms the arbiter of what children see online and could hand over significant power, and private data, to third-party identity verification companies like Clear or ID.me.
Lawmakers should be providing real privacy protections for everyone online. KOSA doesn’t do that. Instead, KOSA would likely require everything from Apple’s iMessage, Signal, web browsers, email applications, VPN software, and platforms like Facebook and TikTok to collect more user data. Perhaps even worse, the bill would allow individual state attorneys general to decide what topics pose a risk to the physical and mental health of a minor, and allow them to force online services to remove and block access to that material everywhere, by default. This isn’t safety—it’s censorship.
In 2020, two copyright bills were added to the end-of-the-year spending package. That bill was what’s known as “must-pass” legislation—i.e. something that is considered vitally important and must become law in order to keep the country functioning. One was the unconstitutional CASE Act. The other was a felony streaming bill that had never had a public hearing. In fact, the text of that bill wasn’t public until it appeared buried in the middle nearly 6,000-page omnibus. Before that happens again, tell Congress not to let copyright creep into must-pass legislation.