Presidential hopeful Ron Paul made a splash with supporters in California on Friday, and the impetus in a rowdy round of applause was something of serious concern with voters this election year: the Internet.
Addressing an audience at the University of California, San Diego late last week, Texas Congressman Ron Paul warmed up the crowd by starting off his speech attacking the ongoing attempts by the federal government to censor the Internet. Weeks earlier Congressman Paul publically renounced the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, but by the enthusiasm in which the lawmaker once again attacked the legislation, it seems clear that it is still a very pressing issue with the politician.
Congressman Paul began an address attended by an estimated 2,000 people on Friday by discussing the importance of the US Constitution’s First Amendment. “Without the First Amendment it is very difficult for us to get our message out,” said Paul, “but I want to make sure that the first amendment is protected on the Internet as well.”
The congressman’s call to stop online censorship was met with a rousing round of applause.
“Every once in a while there will be a court case and there will be some controversial language involved and the courts are supposed to decide, is it constitutional to say these controversial things? Well let me tell you, the First Amendment wasn’t written so that you can talk about the weather,” said Rep. Paul. “It was written so that you can talk about controversial things and even challenge our own government.”
Despite this plea, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. have argued otherwise. The US House of Representatives recently passed CISPA, now meaning that the Senate and President Barack Obama are the only things that will keep the legislation from being signed into law. If it makes it that far, the government will be given the go-ahead to access information from all over the Internet without the consent of regular Web surfers.
Congressman Paul was among the first well-known American politicians to publically condemn CISPA — days after he attacked the act last year, the White House released a statement saying that the president’s advisers would be recommending a veto. As evident with the commander-in-chiefs reluctant signing of the National Defense Authorization Act last year — one he made “with reservations”— the promise of a veto might not mean much until the president actually puts his foot down and sends CISPA back to Congress without his autograph.
Rep. Paul openly attacked CISPA for the first time last month in a tape-recorded address released on the Web. In it, the congressman said the proposed bill “represents an alarming form of corporatism as it further intertwines governments with companies like Google and Facebook.”
“It permits them to hand over your private communications to government officials without a warrant, circumventing the well-known established federal laws like the Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act,” added the congressman.
Speaking from San Diego on Friday, Paul also touched on what he says is the government’s attempt to systematically revoke the civil liberties of Americans.
“In a free society, you should be allowed to lead the life you choose but suffer the consequences if you make a mistake, but also the government can’t come in and tell us what we can do with our personal lifestyles,” said the congressman.
Following former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s forfeit from the race for the White House last week, Ron Paul is left as the most likely contender to battle with Mitt Romney for the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Reports in recent days that allege that the congressman has accumulated the bulk of delegates in both the states of Maine and Nevada, suggesting that although he has been cast aside by the GOP establishment, Rep. Paul’s widespread support might be a real force to reckon with when a candidate is formally established at the Republican National Convention slated for this August in Tampa, Florida.