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Ron Wyden was elected to the United States Senate on January 30, 1996 after serving 15 years in the House of Representatives. Senator Wyden is known for a bipartisan, common sense approach to major issues and The Almanac of American Politics has called Wyden “one of our most creative and innovative legislators.”
Senator Wyden believes that entrepreneurs – not politicians – create jobs. Whether measured in issues addressed, legislation introduced, effective compromises negotiated or bills enacted into law, Wyden has been the single most active and accomplished leader on technology issues in the United States Senate.
- Wyden – along with Republican, Representative Chris Cox, wrote “Section 230” of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which established the principle that backbone providers, network operators and individual sites can’t be held liable for the actions of their users and customers.
- Also, with Representative Cox, Wyden authored the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act, which has barred states and localities from imposing new taxes on electronic commerce. He is now leading the effort to make this prohibition on multiple or discriminatory taxes permanent.
- As a senior member of the Senate Energy committee, Wyden has promoted the growth of alternative energy through incentives that encourage real innovation and investment, not just new subsidies to old agricultural and energy companies.
- He wrote the very first electronic privacy bill which laid out the framework for a system that would ensure consumer confidence while allowing the development of new business models. Wyden also wrote the original anti-censorship legislation for the Internet, encouraging the use of consumer-chosen technology rather than forcing ISPs to police their users or allowing the government to regulate Internet content.
- As Chairman of the Trade subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, Wyden has been a leader in efforts to open lucrative global markets for our telecommunications and technology products and services.
- In 2010 Wyden blocked efforts to pass the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) and is currently blocking Senate efforts to protect similar legislation (Protect IP) without Senate debate. Wyden has argued that both bills would protect intellectual property at the expense of free speech, technological innovation and the very foundations of the Internet.
- Most recently, Wyden teamed up with Rep. Jason Chaffetz to write the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act which creates a legal framework designed to give government agencies, commercial entities and private citizens clear guidelines for when and how geolocation information can be accessed and used.
Wyden won a basketball scholarship to the University of California-Santa Barbara and played in Division I competition for two seasons before transferring to Stanford University to earn his B.A. He earned his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1974 and began his public service with a commitment to protecting senior citizens, first by starting a legal clinic for seniors in Eugene, Oregon, and then as founder and Executive Director of the Oregon Gray Panthers. He currently resides in Portland.