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July 19, 2010

An Experiment: Give your reps a task to complete

Quote of the Day: “I think extending the comment period for 90 days is a good idea. It gives more Americans time to bend over and grab their ankles.” — comment left on the DHS-NSTIC page in response to Jim Babka’s proposal for a 90-day public comment period

Let’s experiment with a new tactic to defeat NSTIC (the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace”). Here’s the key to the new tactic…

Believe it or not, some of your elected representatives actually realize that they work for you, at least when it comes to constituent services. For instance…

My Representative, Gabrielle Giffords, has said in interviews that good performance on constituent services is crucial to her re-election. Your own representatives may have similar feelings, and this could be a new tool for getting what you want.

One example of a constituent service is when you ask your elected representatives to intervene with the federal bureaucracy on your behalf. You could, for instance, ask them to intervene with the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to extend the time for public comments on NSTIC to 90 days.

This is a very reasonable request. After all…

* The NSTIC could compel you to use a government controlled user name and password for nearly everything you do on the Internet.
* That makes NSTIC a very big proposal that warrants an equally large period for public comment.
* We should ask our elected representatives to ask DHS to give us that 90-day comment period.
* Phone calls to DHS from even a few members of Congress could have a huge impact, so this is potentially a BIG LEVER.
* And the 90-day comment period is another lever, because it would buy us time to build a backlash against the craziest parts of this proposal.

This is what we do here at Downsize DC — we try to find ways to accomplish a lot with a little. So…

Are you willing to put your elected reps on the spot, to see if they will take action on your behalf? Here’s how to conduct the experiment…

First, send a letter to Congress using our “cut regulations” campaign.

You can cut and paste this sample letter to use for your personal comments . . .

Please oppose the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.” I do not want to be forced to employ a government controlled username and password in order to use the Internet. For starters, please call the Department of Homeland Security and ask them to extend the public comment period for this plan to 90 days.

Once you’ve logged-in (or registered) to send this letter, you will see the phone numbers for your House Rep and your two Senators. Please call as many of them as you can and do the following . . .

Get straight to the point. Say the following to the person who answers the phone (I’m using my House Rep. as an example)…

I’m calling to ask if Representative Giffords would be willing to contact the Department of Homeland Security and ask them to provide a 90-day public comment period for the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.” This is a DHS program aimed at creating a government controlled username and password for citizens to use on the Internet. DHS published this plan right before the July 4th weekend, when it would attract little notice, and then only provided 19-days for public comment. This is a huge proposal that really warrants a full public debate. I want to call back in a couple of days to learn whether Representative Giffords would be willing to contact DHS about extending the comment period to 90-days.

You can put the above in your own words. There’s no need to read it woodenly. Just be natural. Get the idea across, however it comes out.

We have no idea how the staffer you talk to will respond to this request. That’s part of why we’re doing this. It’s an experiment. So, please leave a comment on this blog post, telling us who you called and what kind of response you got.

Thanks in advance for participating in this experiment.

Perry Willis
Vice President, Inc.

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