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  • (No Title)

    On Tuesday January 14th, advocates of free speech and an open internet were delivered a blow when the Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Net Neutrality rules in Verizon v. FCC.

    Net Neutrality protects consumers from internet providers slowing down, degrading, or even blocking online content or access. If your internet provider provides you an internet phone service, they then can’t block a competitor. If your internet service provider also provides movies or television shows, they then can’t also block sites that belong to their competitors. Also, companies can’t enter deals and pay to block content or deliver their services quicker, leaving their competition at a disadvantage. The idea of Net Neutrality is to keep the internet a free and open platform for innovation and expression.

    Members of Congress with H.R. 3982, and the Senate, S. 1981, have introduced legislation to keep Net Neutrality the law of the land until the FCC devises better mechanisms that comply with the court’s decision.

    There are reports that Verizon is already throttling customers and AT&T has applied for patents to better track downloads and bandwidth use with a rewards system built in. They’re already showing their anti-consumer intentions.

    Write your Congressmen, and Senators and tell them to support this legislation!

  • (No Title)

    On Tuesday January 14th, advocates of free speech and an open internet were delivered a blow when the Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Net Neutrality rules in Verizon v. FCC.

    There are many different definitions of what exactly Net Neutrality is, but it’s basically the ability to the go where you want and do what you want on the internet without extra charges, artificially slow accessibilities or blockages.

    Net Neutrality protects consumers from internet providers slowing down, degrading, or even blocking online content or access. If your internet provider provides you an internet phone service, they then can’t block a competitor. If your internet service provider also provides movies or television shows, they then can’t also block sites that belong to their competitors. Also, companies can’t enter deals and pay to block content or deliver their services quicker, leaving their competition at a disadvantage. The idea of Net Neutrality is to keep the internet a free and open platform for innovation and expression.

    But a DC court has said that the FCC cannot enforce network neutrality as it has in the past. Internet service providers are ecstatic. It is not a good deal for consumers of those providers – basically all of us. We believe that Net Neutrality is in the best interest of digital consumers and leaves the internet hands off from the government, and unfair practices.

    Write your Congressmen, the President and the FCC and ask them to enshrine these rules that will past the test of court.

  • (No Title)

    Tell Your State Senator to NOT Support S 168!

    Though study after study has shown no causal link between video games and real world violence, Massachusetts State Senator William Brownsberger has proposed S 168, which would create a special commission to investigate the influence of violent video games and to try to discover a link with real world violence.

    We don’t need a commission or a study prodded on by inflammatory language that peppers this legislation. Numerous studies have already taken place, which find no such causal link.

    Here are some facts:

    • The FTC has said the video game industry has doing a great job in self-regulating sales of mature games to underage children.
    • Federal studies have already shown that there is no link between video games and real world violence.
    • A former FBI profiler has come out to say that there is no connection. The FBI and Secret Service have published reports that say the same.
    • While video game sales have increased, according to the FBI’s own statistics, violent crime has been steadily decreasing. In 2011, violent crimes nationwide decreased 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, it’s decreased 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales. We’re at some of the lowest levels of violence since the 1960s.
    • Federal courts - including the Supreme Court - have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional.
    • Recent tragedies and incidents have involved people of varying age, including 40 and 60 year olds, who are not video game players.
    • Other nations consume more video games per capita, but see nowhere near the level of violence the United States does.

    This legislation is poorly thought out, and the language used indicates bias. Leave studies to scientists and don’t waste taxpayer money with ill conceived “studies.” Write your State Senator today, and ask them to vote “no” on S 168.

  • Banned Book Week

    Since 1982, the last week of September has reminded us that free speech isn’t truly “free” – Americans need to be ready to speak out and fight to protect our constitutional rights. Banned Book Week is held each year during this time as a way to encourage readers to examine challenged literary works, and also to promote intellectual freedom online and off in libraries, schools and bookstores.

    It has been 31 years since the first Banned Book Week and over 11,300 books have been challenged during this time. Digital books and video games have also become a part of this challenge. They’ve been blamed for inciting violence, a decrease in intellectual capacity, our expanding waistline, as well as the general ills of society. Digital entertainment such as books, films, music and video games are all protected free speech.

    Join us by signing the petition below to show your support for free speech, regardless of whether its books, films, music, or video games. After you've signed, help spread the word to your friends and family.

  • (No Title)

    Tell Governor Christie to Not Spread Misinformation!

    New Jersey gamers, let your voices be heard! Tell your elected officials not to support A4094/S2715.

    This bill wants to only tell part of the story to the people of New Jersey when it comes to the effects of media on youth. The sponsors and drafters of the bill clearly only want to portray the negative aspects of media on the youth of New Jersey. We believe parents should have access to the best scientific research on the subject, not the information picked to score political points.

    New Jersey legislative bill A4094/S2715 would require Jersey schools to distribute information guiding parents on how to limit the exposure of violent media for their children. While we normally support parental empowerment and giving parents all the tools they need, this legislation is based on false data and misinformation.

    The pamphlets this legislation would force schools to distribute to all parents each school year would be full of misleading information and would promote a false narrative and political agenda.

    This is a misguided use of taxpayer money. The ideas that it promotes have been discredited by the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. In Brown v. EMA, the Supreme Court said that these claims “have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason.”

    The legislation supports:

    1. Research and statistics on how violent behavior increases after exposure to violent films, music, television, or video games; and
    2. Scientific findings that show children who play violent video games are more likely to be involved in physical altercations with classmates, perform poorly on academic tasks, and are unable to relate to adults in positions of authority;

    These claims have been debunked by court after court, including the Supreme Court, and do not reflect the conclusions of the vast majority in the scientific community.

    The legislation also ignores the positive effects of video games, including: peer interaction; the reduction of crime; relaxation; greater hand/eye coordination; and much more.

    This legislation and its mandates are a waste of taxpayer money and we ask you to ask Governor Christie to veto the legislation if it comes before him.

  • (No Title)

    Tell the Missouri House to not tax our hobby!

    Missouri gamers, take a moment to tell your representative not to tax our hobby! H.B. 893 would establish a sales tax on the sale of video games rated "mature" at a rate of $1 per game. The law would also force all games rated Teen, Mature or Adults Only that are “sold, stored, used, or otherwise consumed” to have an issued stamp affixed.

    The money raised from the tax would be deposited in a fund created through this law. Though we feel that the department of mental health, department of public safety, teachers, schools and law enforcement need more funds, this isn’t the way to go about it.

    Furthermore, it is impossible to affix a sticker to a digital download and does not address how the state would go about affixing a sticker on all of the Teen, Mature and Adult games sold to date.

    The legislation is another example of misinformation as to the connection between video games and real world violence, since there is none. Instead, gamers are being penalized due to misinformation and outright lies with ill informed and not thought out legislation.

    Please read the letter below, plug in your contact information to the left, and feel free to add your own thoughts to show your opposition to H.B. 893.

  • (No Title)

    Tell the New York Assembly and Senate Video Games are Free Speech!

    When the Supreme Court decided Brown vs. EMA in 2010, it declared that video games are a form of art protected by the First Amendment. Video games are free speech. New York is looking to restrict the sale of video games and treat them like porn, ignoring the Supreme Court.

    The legislation says that any games that have a mature or “violent” rating can’t be sold or rented to anyone under the age of 18 or offered to be sold or rented to those under the age of 18. The games also would have to be located in a “special section.”

    There’s no need for this legislation. Studies by the Federal Trade Commission show that video game ratings are the best enforced out of all entertainment. The retailers are doing a good job and should be commended not punished.

    Here are the issues with the legislation:

    • No other entertainment is treated this way.
    • Video game ratings are the best enforced of all entertainment.
    • The bills give the governmental power to a non-governmental agency, which violates the Fifth Amendment.
    • There is no enforcement mechanism laid out.
    • The bills ignore the facts that 1) sales occur in more places than brick-and-mortar stores, and 2) folks download content and games.

    New York’s politicians didn’t get the message. By passing this legislation they will waste millions of dollars on court battles, which they will lose. The decision has already been made by the highest court of the land. Politicians shouldn’t ignore it due to their taste, opinion and/or incorrect “facts.”

    Write your state elected officials today and tell them this is a battle already lost and to not waste taxpayer dollars.

    In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.

  • (No Title)

    Tell the New York Assembly to not tax our hobby!

    New York gamers, take a moment to tell your representative not to tax our hobby! A02982 would establish a higher sales tax on the sale of video games, game components like accessories, other entertainment, and certain foods and drinks. It would also tax ads of these items before and after shows whose audience is primarily under the age of 18.

    The legislation also establishes a “childhood obesity prevention program fund,” but doesn’t indicate the goals of such fund or what this money would go towards.

    With a purpose that’s not established, it’s difficult to support increased costs to consumers, especially during difficult economic times.

    Please read the letter below, plug in your contact information to the left, and feel free to add your own thoughts to show your opposition to A02982.

  • (No Title)

    Why doesn’t New Jersey Support the First Amendment?

    When the Supreme Court decided Brown vs. EMA in 2010, it declared that video games are a form of art protected by the First Amendment. Video games are free speech. However, in response to recent tragedies, New Jersey is looking to restrict the sale of video games. This is the same sort of legislation that was proposed in California and struck down by the Supreme Court.

    The two pieces of legislation would fine those who sell Mature or AO games to those under 18 without parental consent $10,000 for a first offense or $20,000 for subsequent offenses.

    Here are the issues with the legislation:

    • The Supreme Court has ruled that video games are free speech and that their sale can’t be restricted.
    • The legislation doesn’t define who would be penalized for the sale.
    • No other entertainment is treated this way.
    • Video game ratings are the best enforced of all entertainment.
    • The bills give the governmental power to a non-governmental agency, which violates the Fifth Amendment.
    • There is no enforcement mechanism laid out.
    • The bills ignore the facts that 1) sales occur in more places than brick-and-mortar stores, and 2) folks download content and games.

    Jersey’s politicians didn’t get the message. By passing this legislation they will waste millions of dollars on court battles, which they will lose. The decision has already been made by the highest court of the land. Politicians shouldn’t ignore it due to their taste, opinion and/or incorrect “facts.”

    Write your state elected officials today and tell them this is a battle already lost and to not waste taxpayer dollars.

    In order to address your message to the appropriate recipient, we need to identify where you are.
    Please look up and use your full nine-digit zip for the best results.

  • (No Title)

    It’s been months since recent tragedies saw armed individuals murder innocent adults and children, national tragedies that caused the entire nation to reflect on the causes of gun violence. Immediately, some blamed video games. They were looking for causes and culprits, other than laying blame on the shooters. We know video games are not the cause; banning, or regulating, media content even more won’t solve the issue.

    It’s been six months and Congress is still talking about regulation of video games, wasting millions of dollars on studies and wasting time with one sided hearings. All of this is also a waste of taxpayer money.

    Here are the facts:

    • The FTC has said the video game industry has doing a great job in self-regulating sales of mature games to underage children.
    • Federal studies have already shown that there is no link between video games and real world violence.
    • A former FBI profiler has come out to say that there is no connection. The FBI and Secret Service have published reports that say the same.
    • While video game sales have increased, according to the FBI’s own statistics, violent crime has been steadily decreasing. In 2011, violent crimes nationwide decreased 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, it’s decreased 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales. We’re at some of the lowest levels of violence since the 1960s.
    • Federal courts - including the Supreme Court - have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional.
    • In the case of Sandy Hook, despite wild media speculation, the shooter wasn’t overtly obsessed with video games judging by the items confiscated by police.
    • Recent tragedies and incidents have involved people of varying age, including 40 and 60 year olds, who are not video game players.
    • Other nations consume more video games per capita, but see nowhere near the level of violence the United States does.

    We’re asking you to email your Representative and Senators to set the record straight.

  • (No Title)

    President Obama, Keep Your Promise and Veto CISPA

    Last year, the White House threatened to veto CISPA on the grounds that it would create major privacy and security vulnerabilities. CISPA has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. If you haven’t yet, please take action and tell your Representative to not support it.

    Here are the problems with the legislation as it stands:

    • The description of what can be shared is rather vague.  So it could include your browsing history, your searches and even what games you play.
    • There aren’t any restrictions on the recipients, who may receive and use that information.  If this is about cyber-security, it should only be used for that.
    • Private communications will be flowing from the private sector to the NSA. Yes, really.
    • It broadens spying organizations’ powers with little transparency and limited public oversight.
    • There are vague countermeasures included that allow “cyber security systems” to obtain information in order to protect networks.
    • Websites that publish whistleblower documents could be shut down, censoring speech and the web.

    This is on top of the reason that the White House gave last year. Write the President and tell him to keep his promise.

  • (No Title)

    Tell the Connecticut House to not tax our hobby!

    Connecticut gamers, take a moment to tell your representative not to tax our hobby! H.B. 5735 would establish a sales tax on the sale of video games rated "mature" at a rate of ten per cent on the entire sales price. The money raised from the tax would be used by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the purpose of developing informational materials to educate families on the warning signs of video game addiction and antisocial behavior.

    The stated purpose of the tax is to “provide funds for education concerning the danger of violent video games.”

    Introduced by State Representative Debralee Hovey, the legislation is another example of misinformation as to the connection between video games and real world violence, since there is none. Instead, gamers are being penalized due to misinformation and outright lies.

    Please read the letter below, plug in your contact information to the left, and feel free to add your own thoughts to show your opposition to H.B. 5735.

  • (No Title)

    1984 Could Be Here Now

    H.R. 624, The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA) is currently being debated by the House of Representatives and focuses on the very real issues of cyber threats and the need for greater cyber security.  The legislation amends and updates the National Security Act of 1947, which doesn’t contain provisions regarding cyber crime.  While this law absolutely needs to be updated, this legislation is the latest example of Congress debating technology issues, while not understanding the full implications of the legislation they’re trying to pass.

    CISPA would have technology companies, like video game systems, internet service providers (ISPs) and more share your use of technology with the Government under the guise of cyber security.  It’s George Orwell’s classic book 1984 right here, right now.

    Here are the problems with the legislation as it stands:

    • The description of what can be shared is rather vague.  So it could include your browsing history, searches and even what games you play.

    • There aren’t any restrictions on the recipients who can receive and use that information.  If this is about cyber-security, it should only be used for that.

    • Private communications will be flowing from the private sector to the NSA. Yes, really.

    • It broadens spying organizations’ powers with little transparency and limited public oversight.

    • There are vague countermeasures included that allow “cyber security systems” to obtain information in order to protect networks.

    • Websites that publish whistleblower documents could be shut down, censoring speech and the web.

    This is the government snooping into your use of the internet and technology with the help of corporations without the usual judicial process and the protections we’re guaranteed by the US Constitution.  We can’t see any reason the Government needs to know how much Mass Effect you play, the maps you enjoy in Call of Duty or how many people are in your World of Warcraft Guild... Can you?

  • (No Title)

    Tell the United States Senate to NOT Support S. 134

    The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has recently recommended S. 134 be sent to the floor of the Senate to be voted on. This legislation would instruct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the connection between the “exposure to violent video games and video programming and harmful effects on children.” This comes in the wake of numerous mass shootings across the United States.

    The ECA has numerous concerns about this and feels that this is a distraction to finding the real cause of these events. Senator Rockefeller himself, who has championed this legislation, has, on the record, stated that he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision that video games are protected free speech. In his remarks on the floor of the US Senate, he said:

    “Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons.”

    With all due respect Senator, the highest court of the land has reviewed the scientific research and concluded that video games do not cause violence. The non-scientific personal opinion of the Senator should not get to overturn the Supreme Court ruling.

    The legislation also calls on the Centers for Disease Control to conduct research and for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to become involved. Here are the issues with Senator Rockefeller’s legislation:

    Those two facts alone empirically demonstrate that there’s no connection between video games and real world violence. Here are more reasons this legislation will achieve little:

    • Researchers on both sides of the subject agree that you can’t study violence, only aggression. So there is no way to really come up with answers to the questions posed.
    • The charge already has the taint of bias, as the Senator has said he personally believes that there is a connection. Now, no study connected to his worldview will be free of this.
    • The CDC has had questionable practices in the past when it comes to studies and their conclusions. They have ignored their own data in past studies and have done so regarding past video game studies.
    • This legislation was proposed without talking to leading experts in the field.
    • HHS, the FTC and the FCC have been included in this legislation; they have no role in this study and will likely see this as a way to expand their authority, politicizing the issue even more.
    • The recent shootings that have occurred have not been by children. More recent such incidents have been gentlemen in their 60s or older.
    • An investigation showed there is little evidence recent shooters played video games, and that the claim that they were was a fabrication by the media.
    • There are numerous positive outcomes created by video game play, all of which are ignored by Congress.
    • The legislation ignores past studies, which show that there is no causation between video games and violence, as well as reports by the FBI and the Secret Service that conclude the same thing.
    • Congress is ignoring the studies have already been done. Why are we to believe that any conclusion other than what Senator Rockefeller wants will end this subject once and for all?
    • No matter the outcome, at least one side will not agree with the conclusions drawn by the study. The debate will continue, just as it has after previous studies.

    This is a first step by Congress to legislate entertainment content and video games. They have stated that they disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision that video games are protected speech. For that alone, this issue is too politicized and cannot proceed as is.

    Fill in your zip code below, read the letter, then click the Send This Message button and your letter will be emailed to your member of Congress.

  • (No Title)

    Tell Congress That There's No Link Between Video Games and Real Life Violence

    Rep. Jim Matheson has decided to be the Congressman this year to introduce legislation concerning video games and labels. H.R. 287, “Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act,” would 1) require labels on ALL video games 2) prohibit sales or rentals of adult-rated video games to minors and 3) impose fines for those that do, putting video games in an entertainment category that’s reserved for pornography.

    This legislation is broken in many ways and ignores the facts. The video game industry has been cited by the FTC as the best enforced when it comes to ratings - consistently showing improvement in their enforcement, unlike other entertainment media.

    This legislation would unconstitutionally give power over ratings to a non-governmental agency, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The ESRB runs the video game rating system. The government has not done this with any other content industry’s rating system. Incorporation of the ESRB ratings into US law would violate due process.

    Forced imposition of ratings on all video games would also make it illegal to create home-brew or indie developed games without getting those games rated, which costs money. This will destroy creativity in the industry.

    Finally, the Supreme Court has decided that video games are constitutionally protected free speech. This bill ignores this decision by the highest court of the land.

    Please join with the ECA. Let your Representatives know that you want them to let the industry and parents continue to use a system that works, and have Congress stay focused on the real problems facing our nation.

    Fill in your zip code below, read the letter, then click the Send This Message button and your letter will be emailed to your member of Congress.

  • (No Title)

    With recent tragedies on everyone’s minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooter. Unfortunately some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behavior in individuals. We know this isn’t the case; banning or regulating media content even more won’t solve the issue.

    As if a repeat of a television show we’ve seen before, there’s talk of more hearings and federally funded studies. With a new Congress taking office, we’re asking you to email your Representative and Senators to set the record straight.

    Act Now!

    Submit your zip code, read the letter, fill in the form to the right, and then click the Send This Message button and your letter will be emailed to President Obama and your representatives in Congress listed.

  • (No Title)

    Declaration of Internet Freedom

    Tired of fighting bad bills like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA?  The ECA has joined with numerous other organizations to proclaim this Declaration of Internet Freedom below.  Want to stand up against those trying to control what we do and say online?  Take action. All too often we find ourselves on the "no" end of things, fighting to stop bad bills. This time, we’re proactively saying "yes."  Sign the petition below and show your support to these principles:

  • (No Title)

    Declaration of Internet Freedom

    Tired of fighting bad bills like SOPA, PIPA and CISPA?  The ECA has joined with numerous other organizations to proclaim this Declaration of Internet Freedom below.  Want to stand up against those trying to control what we do and say online?  Take action. All too often we find ourselves on the "no" end of things, fighting to stop bad bills. This time, we’re proactively saying "yes."  Sign the petition below and show your support to these principles:

  • (No Title)

    1984 Could Be Here Now

    Congress is currently debating the merits of two pieces of legislation, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.  CISPA has passed in the House of Representatives, but its cousin, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, is still being debated in the Senate.  We need to do all we can to make sure this legislation stops there.

    The legislation amends and updates the National Security Act of 1947, which doesn’t contain provisions regarding cyber crime.  While this law absolutely needs to be updated, this legislation is the latest example of Congress debating technology issues, while not understanding the full implications of the legislation they’re trying to pass.

    Both pieces of legislation attack privacy by having corporations share your information with the Government under the guise of cyber security.  It’s George Orwell’s classic book 1984 right here, right now.

    Here are the problems with the legislation as it stands:

    • The description of what can be shared is rather vague.  So it could include your browsing history, searches and even what games you play.

    • There aren’t any restrictions on the recipients who can receive and use that information.  If this is about cyber-security, it should only be used for that.

    • Private communications will be flowing from the private sector to the NSA. Yes, really.

    • It broadens spying organizations’ powers with little transparency and limited public oversight.

    • There are vague countermeasures included that allow “cyber security systems” to obtain information in order to protect networks.

    • Websites that publish whistleblower documents could be shut down, censoring speech and the web.

    This is the government snooping into your use of the internet and technology with the help of corporations without the usual judicial process and the protections we’re guaranteed by the US Constitution.  We can’t see any reason the Government needs to know how much Mass Effect you play, the maps you enjoy in Call of Duty or how many people are in your World of Warcraft Guild... Can you?

    Write your Senator and then call their office in the second step.  We need to make our voices heard.

  • (No Title)

    1984 Could Be Here Now

    Congress is currently debating the merits of two pieces of legislation, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.  CISPA has passed in the House of Representatives, but its cousin, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, is still being debated in the Senate.  We need to do all we can to make sure this legislation stops there.

    The legislation amends and updates the National Security Act of 1947, which doesn’t contain provisions regarding cyber crime.  While this law absolutely needs to be updated, this legislation is the latest example of Congress debating technology issues, while not understanding the full implications of the legislation they’re trying to pass.

    Both pieces of legislation attack privacy by having corporations share your information with the Government under the guise of cyber security.  It’s George Orwell’s classic book 1984 right here, right now.

    Here are the problems with the legislation as it stands:

    • The description of what can be shared is rather vague.  So it could include your browsing history, searches and even what games you play.

    • There aren’t any restrictions on the recipients who can receive and use that information.  If this is about cyber-security, it should only be used for that.

    • Private communications will be flowing from the private sector to the NSA. Yes, really.

    • It broadens spying organizations’ powers with little transparency and limited public oversight.

    • There are vague countermeasures included that allow “cyber security systems” to obtain information in order to protect networks.

    • Websites that publish whistleblower documents could be shut down, censoring speech and the web.

    This is the government snooping into your use of the internet and technology with the help of corporations without the usual judicial process and the protections we’re guaranteed by the US Constitution.  We can’t see any reason the Government needs to know how much Mass Effect you play, the maps you enjoy in Call of Duty or how many people are in your World of Warcraft Guild... Can you?

    Write your Senator and then call their office in the second step.  We need to make our voices heard.

  • (No Title)

    1984 Could Be Here Now

    The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is currently being discussed again by elected officials. There are very real issues of cyber threats and the need for greater cyber security and new solutions is just.  In the previous intteration of the legislation tackling this amends and updates the National Security Act of 1947, which doesn’t contain provisions regarding cyber crime.  While this law absolutely needs to be updated, this legislation was an example of Congress debating technology issues, while not understanding the full implications of the legislation they’re trying to pass.

    CISPA would have had technology companies, like video game systems, internet service providers (ISPs) and more share your use of technology with the Government under the guise of cyber security.  It’s George Orwell’s classic book 1984 right here, right now.

    Here are the problems with the previous legislation as it stood:

    • The description of what can be shared is rather vague.  So it could include your browsing history, searches and even what games you play.

    • There aren’t any restrictions on the recipients who can receive and use that information.  If this is about cyber-security, it should only be used for that.

    • Private communications will be flowing from the private sector to the NSA. Yes, really.

    • It broadens spying organizations’ powers with little transparency and limited public oversight.

    • There are vague countermeasures included that allow “cyber security systems” to obtain information in order to protect networks.

    • Websites that publish whistleblower documents could be shut down, censoring speech and the web.

    This is the government snooping into your use of the internet and technology with the help of corporations without the usual judicial process and the protections we’re guaranteed by the US Constitution.  We can’t see any reason the Government needs to know how much Mass Effect you play, the maps you enjoy in Call of Duty or how many people are in your World of Warcraft Guild... Can you?

  • (No Title)

    Tell Congress That There's No Link Between Video Games and Real Life Violence

    Rep. Joe Baca (D CA-43), along with Rep. Frank Wolf (R VA-10) as co-sponsor, thinks its 2009 again and have introduced H.R. 4204, “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012.” This bill, if passed, would require a warning label be affixed to all games rated E (for Everyone) or up by the ESRB, regardless of the content descriptors. The warning would read: `WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.' The ECA needs your help to make sure this bill does not become law.

    Congress is simply misinformed on this issue. While Congressman Baca has cited “scientific studies,” the vast majority of studies show that there is no proven causal link between violent video games and negatively aggressive behavior. In fact, several studies suggest that playing video games can be helpful to young people, such as this study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Further, the bill requires the label on games that are not rated E or above for violence, which could confuse parents and undermine the ESRB, which according to the FTC is the most enforced media retail system.

    “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2012” is an unconstitutional restraint on speech that would harm consumers and parents alike. Please join with the ECA. Let your Representatives know that you want them to let the industry and parents continue to use a system that works, and have Congress stay focused on the real problems facing our nation.

    Fill in your zip code below, read the letter, then click the Send This Message button and your letter will be emailed to your member of Congress.

  • (No Title)

    Tell the Connecticut Senate to not tax our hobby!

    Connecticut gamers, take a moment to tell your representative not to tax our hobby! Senate Bill 400 would implement a tax on digital downloads and would make it more expensive to enjoy video games. Let the Connecticut legislature know that this is not the right way to aid an economic recovery, and not the way to represent their constituents. Please read the letter below, plug in your contact information to the right, and feel free to add you own thoughts to show your opposition to SB 400.

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    Find Out how EULAs Affect You Under State Law

    Recently, video game publishers have begun updating their End User License Agreements (EULAs) for operating their games and game systems with mandatory arbitration clauses.  The EULA is that notice that requires you to click "I agree" before you can use the game, or continue using it.

    They have also increasingly been adding restrictive digital rights management (DRM) software and technologies that may prevent you from renting or selling your games. In addition, they don't disclose that the EULA and DRM are present – so you'd have to buy the game and open the box before you'd know, and then you can't return the game to the store, as a result.

    These changes are changing the deal. You may think that you're buying and owning a game, when, in fact, you're buying a license to just use it – and only in the ways that the publisher says.

    Is all of this legal? Does anyone review these EULAs from the consumer's perspective? The answer is that it depends on your individual state's laws and regulations.  We're asking you to write your state officials to find out how these changes affect you.

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    Using Jailbroken Electronics is NOT a Crime

    We have turned into a society of remixes and tinkerers.  Whether it’s making content on our own, or changing content and “mixing” it with content someone else has created, we take what others have created and personalize it.

    C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, is currently being debated in Canada. It has been compared to the US’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).  While C-11 isn’t quite as draconian as those two, there are sections that are concerning, especially when it comes to how it deals with digital protections and “jailbreaking” electronics.

    The legislation in section 41 makes it illegal to circumvent “technological protection measures.”  This could be anything from jailbreaking your phone to downloading a patch so that you can play a video game.  Being able to modify programs, to use programs on homebrew systems, and to fix incompatible digital protection measures would not be allowed any more.  This could stifle innovation.

    Stand with the Entertainment Consumers Association™ to oppose this section of C-11.

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    The House of Representatives announced over the weekend that they‘re reevaluating the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and would not move forward without consensus.  However, over in the Senate, Majority Leader Reid has a vote still scheduled for their version of the legislation, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

    The House Members have listened to their constituents and are reevaluating SOPA.  We’re hoping the Senate will do the same.  Take a moment to email your Senators and let them know they shouldn’t support PIPA.

    There's a few actions to do here and if you complete all three, something awesome awaits at the end.

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    Don’t Let Congress Censor the Internet

    Some of the worst legislation we’ve ever seen when it comes to digital rights has been put before Congress this session.  Three pieces of legislation, H.R. 3261 in the House of Representatives and S. 968 and S. 978 in the Senate, would cripple the internet by stripping your due process rights and making everyday users wary that the next thing you post might get you sued or thrown in jail.  Here’s what the legislation does:

    • It strips current laws by now making internet companies, which used to be immune, liable for their users’ communications.  This means that Facebook, Youtube, Wordpress, Google and more are now on the hook for what you post.

    • It gives the US Attorney General, with court order, the power to seize websites that possibly infringe or partially infringe copyright.  There would be no due process and no chance to defend yourself before the seizure.  The mere accusation can get a website taken away.

    • It violates Net Neutrality by ordering internet providers, advertising companies and payment systems to block accused websites with technology that just doesn’t exist.

    • It threatens users by imposing fines or jail time for posting even derivatives of copywrited work(s).  A video of your karaoke, playing the piano, video game speed trial would now all be punishable if a copyright holder decides to enforce it.

    We’ve already seen I.C.E. overreact when seizing websites and copyright holders suing over the most minor infractions.  This legislation is vague, overly broad and under inclusive, violates due process, there are already existing laws on this subject and this creates a chilling effect on free speech by creating black lists and making everyday users think twice about what we post.

    Both S. 968 and H.R. 3261 have been shelved, for now, in both the House of Representatives and Senate.  The issues they attempt to solve are still being debated.  Take action now and let your Member of Congress and your Senators know you don't support the legislation and neither should they.

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    Big Brother is Watching Your Second Hand Sales

    A proposed Madison city ordinance to catch addicts and crooks attempting to sell stolen items to secondhand stores and pawn shops would also lead to an overarching reach into the privacy of innocent individuals. 

    The ordinance, which will be considered in October, would require a photo and other personal information about anyone who sold an item to a business to be kept on hand by businesses for six months.  There are so many things disturbing about this.

    There are serious civil liberties issues, as the government would be able to see what video games and movies we use and sell. Further, there is no provision insuring that the collected information will not be shared with third-parties.

    While it’s understandable that the police and government want to do everything they can to prevent the selling of stolen goods, those steps should be done without trampling on our civil rights and privacy.

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    Don't Make Me a Criminal For Playing Video Games

    Bill S. 978 has recently been introduced before the United States Senate.  The legislation, if passed, would impose stricter copyright laws and penalties when it comes to streaming, playing, or reproducing copyrighted material.  While we believe in the rights of copyright holders, this legislation’s broad language would make criminals out of millions of Americans.

    People could face prison for up to 5 years if they:

    1. 1) Make or offer 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works; and

    2. 2) If the total retail value of the performances, or the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner, could exceed $2,500; or

    3. 3) the total fair market value of licenses to offer performances of those works would exceed $5,000

    In plain terms this means that if you stream your game play to show your friends and it’s viewed by 1 or more friends ten times or less, you could go to jail for up to five years. Yeah, really.

    Everyone is at risk. The vagueness regarding value leaves it to copyright holders to determine the possible costs to them. If they want to prosecute through that loophole, they can. A child playing piano of their favorite performer on YouTube, a video of a child dancing to their favorite songs and video game players showing off walk-throughs, speed trials and live streaming their games are all examples of items that’d be prosecutable under this legislation.

    There are already strong laws on the books for copyright holders to protect their intellectual property. We don’t need this draconian measure that’d make criminals out of millions Americans who just want to share their enjoyment of their favorite entertainment.

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    Protect Your Online Rights!

    S. 968, the Protect IP Act of 2011, would take the already strict laws regarding intellectual property and copyright and make them more onerous by causing website owners to be careful about not just what they post, but also what they link to. The released draft of the legislation makes it effectively illegal to link to any website that is, or might be, accused of being “dedicated to infringing purposes.”

    The language in the bill refers to “information location tool[s],” which, as defined, can mean any directory, index, reference, pointer or hypertext link. As content creators, we’d have to be fully aware of what and who we’re linking our website, tweet or status updating to, and worry that if any website we linked to is accused of being used for “infringing purposes,” we can be held liable, even if we haven’t posted or hosted the offending material ourselves. Even without reproducing the work, preparing derivative works, distributing the works, performing the works or displaying the work, other website owners can be held liable for just linking to the accused real offenders.

    We’ve already seen clamp downs and seizures of websites without due process, and at least one case of the above. If passed, this legislation will have a chilling effect on the simple act of posting any link online. Write your Senator today and tell them to not support S. 968.

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    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wants to hear your thoughts on usage based billing!

    Last week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced its intent to review the billing practices across the telecommunications industry that affect residential consumers of smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs), found here.  Without hearing input from Canadian gamers and general users of the Internet, the CRTC could authorize ISPs to charge you more per month for Internet services, depending on your Internet usage, and it may not be as fast, or as reliable, as your current service!

    Not only could increased prices affect your online game play, but it could also affect how you choose to browse the Internet you might do on your computer at home.  Such long term repercussions of these changes could also stifle Canadian technological innovation, or social progress.  Gamers, and Internet browsers, it’s time for your voice to be heard!

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    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wants to hear your thoughts on usage based billing!

    Last week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced its intent to review the billing practices across the telecommunications industry that affect residential consumers of smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs), found here.  Without hearing input from Canadian gamers and general users of the Internet, the CRTC could authorize ISPs to charge you more per month for Internet services, depending on your Internet usage, and it may not be as fast, or as reliable, as your current service!

    Not only could increased prices affect your online game play, but it could also affect how you choose to browse the Internet you might do on your computer at home.  Such long term repercussions of these changes could also stifle Canadian technological innovation, or social progress.  Gamers, and Internet browsers, it’s time for your voice to be heard!

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    Tell Congress to Support Net Neutrality

    On February 16, the House of Representatives will meet with the FCC to discuss its recently implemented rules on Net Neutrality.  Net Neutrality is the principle that prevents discrimination of content online, from slowing down your connection to certain sites or services to outright blocking your access to others.

    While the rules the FCC implemented were not perfect, those in the House are putting together a vote to not only overturn those rules but also prevent the FCC from ever making any other rules regarding Net Neutrality in the future.

    While these initial rules aren’t perfect, they do have some protection for consumers.  Without Net Neutrality our ability to play video games online, visit the sites we want or use the services we choose could be endangered.

    Write your Congressman below and tell them you support Net Neutrality.

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    Tell Congress That There's No Link Between Video Games and Real Life Violence

    Rep. Joe Baca (D CA-43), along with Rep. Frank Wolf (R VA-10) as co-sponsor, thinks its 2009 again and is introducing “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011.” This bill, if passed, would require a warning label be affixed to all games rated T or up by the ESRB, regardless of the content descriptors. The warning would read: `WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.' The ECA needs your help to make sure this bill does not become law.

    Congress is simply misinformed on this issue. While Congressman Baca cites “scientific studies,” the vast majority of studies show that there is no proven causal link between violent video games and negatively aggressive behavior. In fact, several studies suggest that playing video games can be helpful to young people, such as this study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Further, the bill requires the label on games that are not rated T or above for violence, which could confuse parents and undermine the ESRB, which according to the FTC is the most enforced media retail system.

    “The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2011” is an unconstitutional restraint on speech that would harm consumers and parents alike. Please join with the ECA. Let your Representatives know that you want them to let the industry and parents continue to use a system that works, and have Congress stay focused on the real problems facing our nation.

    Simply read the letter below, fill in the form to the right, then click the Send This Message button and your letter will be emailed to your member of Congress.

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    Tell the FCC To Give Us the Net Neutrality We Were Promised

    On December 21, the FCC will meet and it’s reported that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will outline his Net Neutrality proposal with a vote before the end of the year.  Instead of the preservation of a neutral internet where traffic is treated equally, we have heard that the proposal would:

    * Require wired broadband providers to let subscribers access all legal content, applications, and services with the flexibility to manage network congestion and spam as long as they publicly disclose their network management approach.

    * Allow broadband providers to experiment with dedicated networks to route traffic from specialized services like smart grids and home security systems as long as they don't hurt the public internet.

    * Permit tiered pricing.

    This is not a “neutral internet” and fails for the following reasons:

    * It exempts wireless – wireless carriers might not be able to “block” content, but under this proposal they would be able to “discriminate.”

    * Expect paid priority and toll roads - Under these rules the toll roads demanded by Comcast to Netflix would be legal and standard practice.  Internet Service Providers would be free to create bumps in the road to access content or even degrade a service to the point it’s not usable, unless they pay up.

    * The enforcement and definition of “lawful content” is unclear – torrent and peer-to-peer sites have a place in disseminating information quickly and easily.  Unfortunately it is used for piracy as well.  Will the technology be thrown out with the bathwater?

    This is changing the definition of Net Neutrality and yet declaring ”mission accomplished.”

    The Net Neutral principle was stated as a goal of President Obama’s upon his election.  Net Neutrality benefits us consumers and we need to speak up to make sure that we get the law of the land we were promised.  Write to the FCC today!

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    Tell the Senate to Allow Camera Coverage in the Supreme Court




    The video game industry has just experienced its first major case before the United States Supreme Court, Schwarzenegger v. EMA.  While transcripts, audio and news coverage gave us insight into what went on before the Court, video cameras were not allowed.

    That’s why we’re asking the Senate to pass S. 446, which would allow cameras into the Supreme Court proceedings, unless doing so would violate the due process of one of the parties.  The bill has received strong bipartisan support.  We believe in transparency and accountability and that we should be able to watch a proceeding at the Supreme Court just like any other hearing.

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    A Balance of Liberties for Consumers' and Creators' Rights




    The U.S. Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force is looking for input as to how they should proceed when it comes to protecting intellectual property.  They have asked for input from the public and comments are due by November 19, 2010.

    This is your opportunity to tell the Internet Policy Task Force your thoughts on intellectual property protection and directly influence policy and legislation.  They want to hear from you.  Take advantage and let them know your thoughts and concerns.

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    Support Net Neutrality




    Recently, Google and Verizon announced their joint principles when it comes to network neutrality. It’s clear that their seven principles would in fact create a tiered internet, further dividing the haves and the have-nots, and seriously hurting American consumers’ rights. While their two main goals are admirable, their customers should choose what content, applications, and devices they use.

    Their fifth principle would create an a-la-cart internet, akin to cable television, which would “allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today.” While they claim they don’t want this to be an “out” and to circumvent other rules, this would be allowing the foxes to guard the chicken coop. Unfortunately, we would quickly see premium game services that you’d have to pay extra for, and would create walled gardens of services.

    Their sixth principle also differentiates between wired and wireless services. As you probably know, wireless broadband is the future of internet services. In fact this principle says that they encourage the FCC to “not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless” services. Unfortunately, this is backwards in that the lack of interference from ISP providers has allowed innovation online and should continue in the wireless market. They want free rein to accelerate pricing in the entire internet market as ISPs move more into wifi technologies.

    In the end, their seven principles, along with recent closed door meetings between telecommunication lobbyists and the FCC, are disturbing and could easily result in our consumer rights being diminished.

    Net Neutrality affects your online gaming experience. Speak out today and tell the FCC to take a stand and enshrine it to protect all consumers.

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    Support Net Neutrality




    The FCC is looking for input as to how they should proceed when it comes to implementing Net Neutrality and in their National Broadband Plan.  They have proposed their “Third Way.”  Recently, they have taken closed door meetings with telecommunication lobbyists and rumors of a compromise persist.  We need to speak up and make sure the FCC stands with consumers.  The Entertainment Consumers Association™ (ECA) advocates for network neutrality, which would ensure that gamers are free to go where they want, do what they like, and connect with whom they choose online.

    This is your opportunity to tell your FCC that you support network neutrality.  With issues like bandwidth caps and tiered pricing on the table, the ECA urges you to make your voice heard.

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    Support HB 1973 in North Carolina




    North Carolina gamers, it is time to tell your state representatives to support the economic turn-around in your state by supporting tax credits for interactive digital businesses. Tell them to support HB 1973 which will help attract new business to the state, just as it did when Insomniac Studios decided to move to the state with a secondary studio! This bill will mean new jobs and opportunities to the people of North Carolina, so let your voice be heard!

    Please read the letter below, fill in the form to the right, then click the Send This Message button and your letter will be emailed to your elected representative.

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    Gamers: Now is the time to stand up and be counted!

    The Supreme Court of the United States heard the State of California’s infamous ‘violent video game case,’ Brown v. EMA on Tuesday, November 2nd. That means that this year, the Court is going to decide whether to agree with the lower federal courts or not. Agreeing would mean that they believe that video games are,and should continue to be, First Amendment protected speech; just like books, movies and music.  The court disagreeing would mean that they think video games should be treated differently. This could lead to new bills and laws curtailing video game access in states across the country.



    For nearly two decades, elected officials have tried to regulate which video games you can buy, rent and play. Every single time they’ve passed a law, the federal courts have struck it down as unconstitutional. But this may change this fall.

    It is no exaggeration to state that their hearing represents the single most important moment for gamers, and the pivotal issue for gaming, in the sector’s history.

    Over last summer, we drafted and formally submitted our amicus brief, which was included with the other official court documents related to the case. Separately, we attached a petition signed by you, the American public, which – by its very existence – publicly defined who the consumers of interactive entertainment are and why we care enough about the issue to take the time to make the effort to speak up and make our voices heard. The petition established an authoritative collective position which cannot be redefined by detractors nor co-opted by others. And it enshrines each and every signatory’s participation in the court documents and in the U.S. National Archives’ official records related to the case.

    If you’re an American gamer, and you care about gaming and your rights, stand up and be counted; sign the petition today!

    THE GAMER PETITION:

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    Obama's IP Czar Wants to Hear From You!

    Victoria Espinel, the newly appointed Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (otherwise known as the U.S. “IP Czar”) under the Obama Administration, recently addressed the American public, encouraging people to speak out on the state of U.S. copyright and trademark enforcement laws and how best to go about protecting intellectual property and content abroad.

    Historically, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has welcomed commentary like this only from industry insiders through annual Special 301 reports that are filed by industries and their representative trade groups.  Various companies and their representatives, including the entertainment industries, have long used the Special 301 reports to comment on their particular grievances regarding inadequate copyright enforcement laws in countries such as Canada, Mexico, China, Russia, Brazil, Israel, and other nations around the world.  These trade groups hope that their complaints will be followed up by sanctions by the U.S. government against the other countries until remedies are in place in those “watch list” nations that meet U.S. legal and private sector standards.

    In reality, it is widely known that the USTR receives these Special 301 reports from industry representatives with some doubt and reservation, as the data supporting the allegations of lax copyright enforcement measures is believed to be exaggerated, crafted to support the agendas of the rights holders to secure more profits from nations where piracy and counterfeiting is pervasive.  For example, Ars Technica produced a report in 2008 on the inaccurate - or even fabricated - statistics that content industries filed in their Special 301 reports to the USTR.

    This year, to the credit of the new IP Czar, the USTR is now asking for legitimate input from rights holders, industry representatives, and the public.  This time they’re also demanding supporting documentation for each of the grievances that rights holders may claim.  One might argue that this is an acknowledgement by the USTR of the biased information that they’ve been receiving in years past, and aim to change their procedures.

    What does this mean for consumers?  In short, this is good news.  Why?  Because now when governments sit down to discuss counterfeiting, piracy and potential solutions, they’ll be using accurate data, which will potentially limit the grounds that they will cover to amend their legislation, thereby continuing to potentially maximize the freedoms that consumers have had in their respective jurisdictions.

    As the Entertainment Consumers Association™ continues to make gamers and consumers aware of developing and changing legislation, we also aim to empower you to make your voice heard.  We invite you to make your thoughts known, by sending the letter below!

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    Tell the Colorado House to not tax our hobby!

    Colorado gamers, take a moment to tell your representative not to tax our hobby! H.B. 1192 would implement a tax on digital downloads and would make it more expensive to enjoy video games. Let the Colorado legislature know that this is not the right way to aid an economic recovery, and not the way to represent their constituents. Please read the letter below, plug in your contact information to the right, and feel free to add you own thoughts to show your opposition to H.B. 1192

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    Tell the Rhode Island Senate to stand up for free speech!

    Rhode Island gamers, it’s time to let your voices be heard. Tell your State Senator to oppose S.B. 2156. This bill attempts to criminalize video game sales and will result in chilling speech in video games. Nine similar bills have already been defeated and have cost those states over $2 million dollars to defend. Let your State Senator know that Rhode Island has more pressing matters than criminalizing our hobby! Please read the letter below, plug in your conact information to the right, and feel free to add you own thoughts to show your opposition to S.B. 2156.

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    The New York (NY) legislature is presently contemplating a bill that would restrict the sale of video games people under the age of 18.  Parenting should be done by parents, not the government.  And as we know, restricting video games based on violent content violates the First Amendment.

    By raising our voices in opposition, gamers can stop this bill in committee.  Right now, the NY Consumer Affairs & Protection Committees are deciding whether or not to kill the bill in committee.  Our letters will help convince them to stop the NY violent video game bill.

    We all need to act now!

    Simply read the letter below, fill in the form to the right, then click the Send This Message button and your letter will be emailed to the NY Consumer Affairs & Protection Committee members.