Group launches campaign to pressure Obama not to pick Berman for State

Demand Progress, a liberal advocacy group, launched a campaign on Monday urging President Obama not to pick Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) as his next secretary of State because of the lawmaker's support for controversial anti-piracy legislation.

The group warned that as the nation's top diplomat, Berman would undermine Internet freedom.

"If we're serious about promoting global Internet freedom, it's hard to imagine a worse pick," Demand Progress wrote in a petition to the president and the Senate.

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Berman, a 15-term lawmaker, lost his congressional seat last week in a bitter intraparty battle with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) in California's redrawn 30th congressional District.

The Hill and other publications have reported that Berman's name is now being floated to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is expected to step down sometime next year.

Berman served as both the chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and worked closely with the Obama administration on Iran sanctions and other high-profile issues. 

As a close ally of the entertainment industry, Berman is also an advocate of tough copyright enforcement and was a leading author of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). 

The bill would have required websites to delete links to foreign sites accused of copyright infringement. Supporters said the measure was necessary to curb rampant online piracy, but critics argued the bill would lead to Internet censorship and stifle online innovation.

Lawmakers abandoned the bill after thousands of websites staged a coordinated protest in January. 

Demand Progress called Berman "one of the biggest shills for Hollywood" and claimed he has "repeatedly tried to censor the web."

The group encouraged people to post their opposition to Berman on Facebook and Twitter.

The State Department is a global advocate for free expression and represents the United States in negotiations over treaties that affect telecommunications and the Internet. Other candidates mentioned for the secretary of State post include Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon.