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Silicon Valley Purists Are Clueless About How Washington Works, Too

Silicon Valley Purists Are Clueless About How Washington Works, Too
Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This week we had a little fun at Congress’s expense, detailing how little politicians actually understand about how the Internet works. Fewer than a dozen members of Congress, says Jason Chaffetz, can explain how Wi-Fi works. Fewer than five can explain what the Domain Name System is. Chaffetz is a Republican House member from Utah, and he can explain both of these things. Tim Lordan, executive director of the Internet Education Foundation, won’t dispute Chaffetz’s numbers. Ha. Stupid old Congress.

But a few people I talked to last week pointed out something that should make California just a little less smug: Silicon Valley doesn’t understand how Congress works, either. And it needs to. “In the startup community, they’re on an emotional high from having killed SOPA and PIPA,” says Garrett Johnson, referring to legislation that would have tightened controls against digital piracy. “One thing they don’t understand is that it’s relatively easy to kill legislation. It’s harder to pass a bill.” Johnson worked as a staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before moving out to California to co-found SendHub, which makes Web and mobile business phone systems.