"The Voice of The Internet Community Has Been Heard"

A couple of encouraging developments out of the US reported as today via TheDomains blog make us cautiously optimistic that the Stop Online Privacy Act (a.k.a “SOPA”) bill (to which we posted our objections in December) may be on ice for now. We were not alone in opposing SOPA and related initiatves, numerous domain registrars and DNS hosts also came out against it (except for one notable exception).

First, the White House issued a statement on SOPA, PIPA et al which says:

“”We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

They went on to talk specifically around the technical and DNS aspects of the legislations:

We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.

Meanwhile, over in Congress, Darrell Issa’s (R-California) hearings scheduled for Wednesday on the impact of DNS and search engine blocking have been postponed after it was announced that SOPA will not move to the House floor without a consensus.

“The voice of the Internet community has been heard. Much more education for Members of Congress about the workings of the Internet is essential if anti-piracy legislation is to be workable and achieve broad appeal.”

For the moment it appears as though these initiatives will at least undergo a rethink before moving forward.

My only concern, and it may be nothing, is an uneasy feeling I got when I read one particular line from the White House statement (this one):

We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers…

Like the intuitive rabbit “Fiver”, in Watership Down, who couldn’t read the sign driven into the ground at their rabbit warren (heralding future construction), but had a feeling it was “bad news”, reading that sentence made me uncomfortable. It occurred to me that the White House has some conception of a dangerous, unreliable DNS server. And if they have an idea of what an “dangerous, unreliable DNS server” is, then they may, in the future, come out with some idea of what a safe, reliable DNS server is. Hopefully, that’s just DNSSEC, but the paranoiac in me wonders if or when the day comes when there is a move to regulate or license DNS servers. It would not surprise me.

But other than that, I wonder if SOPA Blackout Day is still going to happen on Jan 18th.


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