New version of SOPA copyright bill, old complaints

In an effort to head off mounting criticism before a vote on the legislation this Thursday, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today announced a series of tweaks to SOPA, which is backed by Hollywood and major record labels but opposed by Internet firms and the Consumer Electronics Association.But Smith, who heads the House Judiciary committee, stopped short of altering the core of SOPA–meaning that allegedly piratical Web sites could still be made to vanish from the Internet. Deep packet inspection could still be required.To read this CNET report in full, see: see:Google Claims Censorship as Hollywood Presses Piracy Bills
Internet companies led by Google Inc. are waging a last-ditch campaign to block anti-piracy legislation before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, saying the Hollywood-backed measure amounts to online censorship.Lobbying in Washington by the Web industry and motion- picture studios has intensified as the panel prepares for a scheduled Dec. 15 vote on the bill, which has become a flash point in the debate over how to curb online trafficking of illegally copied movies and music. Society Joins Opposition to Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) [news release]
The Internet Society Board of Trustees has expressed concern with a number of U.S. legislative proposals that would mandate DNS blocking and filtering by ISPs to protect the interests of copyright holders. While the Internet Society agrees that combating illicit online activity is an important public policy objective, these critical issues must be addressed in ways that do not undermine the viability of the Internet as a platform for innovation across all industries by compromising its global architecture. The Internet Society Board of Trustees does not believe that the Protect-IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are consistent with these basic principles.

Specifically, the Internet Society is concerned with provisions in both bills regarding Domain Name System (DNS) filtering. DNS filtering is often proposed as a way to block illegal content consumption by end users. Yet policies to mandate DNS filtering will be ineffective for that purpose and will interfere with cross-border data flows and services undermining innovation and social development across the globe.Filtering DNS or blocking domain names does not remove the illegal content – it simply makes the content harder to find. Those who are determined to download filtered content can easily use a number of widely available, legitimately-purposed tools to circumvent DNS filtering regimes. As a result, DNS filtering encourages the creation of alternative, non-standard DNS systems.From a security perspective, DNS filtering is incompatible with an important security technology called DNSSEC. In fact, DNSSEC would be weakened by these proposals. This means that the DNS filtering proposals in SOPA and PIPA could ultimately reduce global Internet security, introduce new vulnerabilities, and put individual users at risk.Most worrisome, DNS filtering and blocking raises human rights and freedom of expression concerns, and often curtails international principles of rule of law and due process. Some countries have used DNS filtering and blocking as a way to restrict access to the global Internet and to curb free expression.The United States has been a strong proponent of online Internet freedoms and therefore has an important responsibility to balance local responsibilities and global impact, especially with respect to Internet policy. Given this commitment to global Internet freedom, it would be harmful to the global Internet if the United States were to implement such an approach.”The Internet Society Board of Trustees is deeply concerned about the ramifications of the PIPA and SOPA bills on the overall stability and interoperability of the Internet,” said Raul Echeberria, Chairman of the Internet Society Board of Trustees. “The Board recognizes that there can be misuses of the Internet; however, these are greatly outweighed by the positive uses and benefits of the Internet. We believe the negative impact of using solutions such as DNS blocking and filtering to address these misuses, far outweighs any short-term legal or business benefits.””The Internet Society believes that sustained, global collaboration amongst all parties is needed to find ways that protect the global architecture of the Internet while combating illicit online activities,” said Internet Society President and CEO Lynn St. Amour. “Mandating DNS blocking and filtering is simply not a viable option for the future of the Internet. We must all work together to support the principles of innovation and freedom of expression upon which the Internet was founded.”For more details on DNS Filtering and to download a white paper, visit the Internet SocietyThe Internet Society is the world’s trusted independent source of leadership for Internet policy, technology standards, and future development. Based on its principled vision and substantial technological foundation, the Internet Society works with its members and Chapters around the world to promote the continued evolution and growth of the open Internet through dialog among companies, governments, and other organizations around the world. For more information, see: Revision to SOPA: Some Welcome Cuts, But Major Concerns Remain
Yesterday afternoon, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith released a proposed substitute amendment for SOPA, the sweepingly broad anti-piracy bill introduced in October. The amended version is scheduled to be considered by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday.Based on an initial read – and the amended bill still clocks in at over seventy pages, so further lurking issues may emerge with more analysis – it appears that Chairman Smith has addressed some of the bill’s most egregious faults. However, he was starting from a very low baseline; the original bill contained many hugely problematic elements, which is why it has drawn such a massive outpouring of opposition. The amended bill still fails to fully embrace a narrowly targeted, follow-the-money approach. (Senator Wyden and Representative Issa recently issued a concrete proposal showing what that might look like.) Thus, the revised version of SOPA continues to raise major concerns.

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