Marc Cenedella, the founder and CEO of the job-hunting site TheLadders.com and a potential 2012 opponent to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, slammed the lawmaker today for her sponsorship of a bill that he says would lead to Internet censorship.
“The bill is a bad idea for the country and it’s an even worse idea for New York,” Mr. Cenedella said. ”It could cost New York thousands of jobs. It is a very dangerous and potentially damaging bill to the nascent information technology community here in New York City.
“Sen. Gilllibrand should have done her homework before sponsoring it,” he added.
The bill in question is the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, which would, backers say, stop the online and illegal copying of music, movies and other content.
Internet companies like Wikipedia, Google, and Twitter say that PIPA and its companion, Stop Online Piracy, or SOPA, would require them to police cyberspace for pirated content, and they fear that they could be held responsible if users of their sites engage in illegal file-sharing.
“The New York tech communities is up in arms because PIPA and SOPA would fundamentally change the Internet, inhibit commerce and the development of new technologies,” Mr. Cenedella said. “It is just going to drive businesses and workers and jobs off-shore.”
Mr. Cenedella has emerged in recent weeks as perhaps the most likely 2012 Republican challenger to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is running for her first full term in office. Mr. Cenedella has been wooing county GOP organizations, and has pledged to throw in $5 million of his own money on the race.
Recent polls have shown Ms. Gillibrand rising in popularity among New Yorkers since she was first named to the Senate in 2009 to replace Hillary Clinton. A Siena poll today showed that a majority of New Yorkers want to see her re-elected.
Still, this PIPA question could come back to hurt her. Tomorrow a demonstration is planned in front of her office, and Mr. Cenedella clearly plans to make it an issue in the race if he runs.
“The tech industry is a sector that is actually growing here in New York, so it’s awful that we have a senator sponsoring legislation that is goofing that up,” he said. ”This is what happens when Congress tries to regulate things it knows nothing about. You wouldn’t sponsor this bill if you knew how the Internet works.”
Mr. Cenedella described the legislation as essentially allowing the town criers of yore to prevent a new industry like newspapers from coming into being. He noted that dozens of websites are planning to go dark tomorrow in protest. The Ladders.com, however, is not.
“We help people with their job searches day-to-day, and decided that trumps this issue,” he said.
And Mr. Cenedella declined to say if he would actually hash out these issues on a debate stage with Sen. Gillibrand in the near future.
“I am not commenting on that, but I think we ought to have a senator that understand the importance of information technology business to the future of New York State.”
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