Also in attendance was POPVOX, a company that helps Members connect digitally with their constituents. The product on display at the exhibition was the firm’s new iPad app, MarkUp, which allows Members and staff to view and take notes on any piece of legislation.
“It’s the first iPad app of its kind developed with the Congressional staffer and lobbyist in mind,” POPVOX co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Rachna Choudhry said.
Choudhry explained that the app allows users to see what POPVOX-using constituents are saying about pending legislation, which could allow Members to quote real-time constituent reaction while the bill is being discussed.
Wedged right in the middle of the policy battles — literally — is Popvox. The local start-up serves as a digital intermediary between members of Congress and their constituents with a Web site and iPad app where each can read proposed legislation and voice their opinion.
“Regardless of whether you are a supporter or opposer, it was interesting to see that level of constituent activism,” co-founder Rachna Choudhry said of the Internet piracy debate. But it’s not the only issue garnering attention.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking involves the illegal transportation of women, children, and others across borders for illicit purposes. (Learn more about human trafficking.) We pulled together a list of bills relating to the issue.
We hope you’ll weigh in on these bills on POPVOX and share with your friends and networks.
Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act (HR 2730) improves the child welfare response to trafficking by strengthening the child welfare system to identify, document, and counsel children at risk of exploitation.
E-SAFETI Task Force Act (HR 2801) establishes a task force for the purpose of studying and making recommendations to prevent and combat internet-facilitated human trafficking.
Human Trafficking Reporting Act (HR 2982) includes human trafficking as a “part 1 violent crime” for purposes of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
Border Tunnel Prevention Act (S 1236) reduces the trafficking of drugs and to prevent human smuggling across the Southwest Border by deterring the construction and use of border tunnels.
HRes 508: Supporting the goals and ideals of International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and recognizing the 10th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act (HR 915) establishes a Border Enforcement Security Task Force program to enhance border security by fostering coordinated efforts among Federal, State, and local border and law enforcement officials to protect U.S border cities and communities from trans-national crime, including illegal alien trafficking and smuggling, violence, and kidnapping along and across the international borders of the U.S.
International Megan’s Law (HR 3253) protects children from sexual exploitation by mandating reporting requirements for convicted sex traffickers and other registered sex offenders against minors intending to engage in international travel, providing advance notice of intended travel by high interest registered sex offenders outside the U.S. to the government of the country of destination, requesting foreign governments to notify the U.S. when a known child sex offender is seeking to enter the U.S.
Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S 1301 and HR 2830) authorizes appropriations for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, and enhances measures to combat trafficking in persons.
As we enter the week of the Florida Primary, we decided to take a look at what people in Florida have been telling Congress through the POPVOX system. Many of the bills that make the Florida list are similar the Top 50 bills overall, though some interesting things stand out:
The issue that brought the most activity in messages to Congress this week on POPVOX was the “Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act.” H.R. 3359, pitting animal rights advocates against those who work with animals in traveling shows.
While H.R. 3359 moved fewer people than the over 10,000 who weighed in last week on SOPA using POPVOX, its opponents and proponents demonstrated similar passion. From January 20 to January 27, nearly 700 people weighed in on the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, 54% in support, 46% in opposition. While messages came in from constituents in every state and nearly every Congressional district, the most active was that of Vern Buchanan (R, FL-13), with thirty-six people weighing in (14% supported and 86% opposed).
The bill is pending in the House Agriculture Committee, chaired by Representative Frank Lucas (R, OK-3). Three constituents from Mr. Lucas’ district opposed the bill. None weighed in from the district of Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN, 7).
The Top Five Trending Bills on POPVOX for the week of January 20 are:
2. H.R. 3814: To prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloguing the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns, from Rep. Justin Amash [R, MI-3]. 595 TOTAL, 571 for the week (75% support, 47% oppose)
Looking forward to participating in “Better Activism Day” on January 18 hosted by Clay Johnson .
From the announcement:
[I]n honor of the blackouts on the 18th, I’m holding a “Better Activism Day” with my friends at O’Reilly and PopVox — a livestream of experts, most of the day, who will talk about how to improve your power in Washington from people who’ve been successful at moving it. It’s time we started getting some of the inside-the-beltway expertise outside of Washington.
"one of the most dangerous problems we have in America is the disconnect between how people think Congress works, and how Congress actually works."
Issa Press Release: SOPA Not Headed to House Floor, OGR hearing postponed
We just received the following press release issued by Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa. We can’t find the link up yet online, so given the interest in this bill by POPVOX users, we are posting here. See links below to weigh in on the bills mentioned in the release.
Sent: Saturday, January 14, 2012 01:16 AM
Subject: Press Release — SOPA Not Headed to House Floor, OGR hearing postponed
Issa: Flawed SOPA Bill Not Headed to House FloorOGR hearing planned for Wednesday postponed following assurances, removal of DNS provisions
Washington, DC – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa today announced that a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, which was to examine the impact of Domain Name Service (DNS) and search engine blocking on the Internet, has been postponed following assurances that anti-piracy legislation will not move to the House floor this Congress without a consensus.
"While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House. Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to anyanti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote,” said Chairman Issa. “The voice of the Internet community has been heard. Much more education for Members of Congress about the workings of the Internet is essential if anti-piracy legislation is to be workable and achieve broad appeal.”
"Earlier tonight, Chairman Smith announced that he will remove the DNS blocking provision from his legislation. Although SOPA, despite the removal of this provision, is still a fundamentally flawed bill, I have decided that postponing the scheduled hearing on DNS blocking with technical experts is the best course of action at this time. Right now, the focus of protecting the Internet needs to be on the Senate where Majority Leader Reid has announced his intention to try to move similar legislation in less than two weeks."
Chairman Issa intends to continue to push for Congress to heed the advice of Internet experts on anti-piracy legislation and to push for the consideration and passage of the bipartisan OPEN Act, which provides an alternative means for protecting intellectual property rights without undermining the structure and entrepreneurialism of the Internet. Learn more about Rep. Issa and Sen. Ron Wyden’s alternative the OPEN Act at www.keepthewebopen.com
The PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) S. 968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011
S. 2029: Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act)
Below is a chart of the input that Judiciary Committee members have received from their constituents through the POPVOX system.
A few observations:
Every committee Member has received messages from their constituents regarding SOPA using POPVOX.
Sentiment in every district is majority opposition (of sentiment registered on POPVOX.)
As we always emphasize, POPVOX is not a poll. It is simply a sample of what Congress is hearing from constituents. The messages that are counted on POPVOX have been received by these Members through their official correspondence systems. (See: How We Deliver Messages). POPVOX brings transparency, efficiency, and accountability to that system.
From January 7 to January 13, over 850 people sent a message to their Congressperson regarding SOPA, bringing the total on POPVOX to just over 6,000 with 98% opposing the bill. Messages came from users in every Congressional district.
Raising awareness on the Internet is all good and fine, but nothing tells our nation’s leaders we mean business like sending a letter to Congress or placing a phone call.
PopVox is one service that will help you contact Congress free of charge. From PopVox’s SOPA and PIPA pages, you can see lists of organizations supporting and opposing the bills, you can read the full text of the bills, and you can tell Congress what you think about both bills. PopVox asks you to include your name and address, then it sends your message of opposition along to the appropriate members of Congress.
“With the start of the 2012 election year,” says the POPVOX’s CEO, Marci Harris, “POPVOX Congress Match gives you even more reasons to tell your legislators what you think about pending legislation — and a way to see how well they listened when Election Day rolls around.”