Failure to Communicate: Pending US Congressional Orwellian Bills Threaten the Internet

Author: Michael Peters
Published: December 27, 2011 at 5:48 am
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In the spirit of the holiday season, three wise men, actually law professors, following an analysis, are warning that the proposed intellectual property PROTECT IP (Source: PROTECT IP) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (Source SOPA) legislation, currently working their way through Congress, will damage the world's DNS system, cripple attempts to get better online security and violate free speech provisions in the US constitution (Source: Stanford Law Review).

DNS, for the layperson, is the essential technology networking system that points Internet browsers at websites when given a human-readable address, such as facebook.com or michaelpeters.org. If any site is removed from the DNS system then say goodbye to site traffic to that address.

The danger here is that the overarching reach of the proposed legislation would cause people to seek alternatives to the existing DNS system, manufacture massive technical problems in the ongoing implementation of DNS security (DNSSEC) and trounce on our rights of free expression by allowing the total suppression of published opinion based on allegations without proof, or even a hearing. Essentially, anyone with an opinion would be guilty before proven innocent. Your voice is in danger of being choked out!

From my point of view, there are two major facets here to be concerned about. First, under the current language of the proposed PROTECT IP legislation, a US federal prosecutor who finds a foreign website that is “dedicated to infringing activities” can force all US internet service providers and operators of domain name services to block, delete or in some way, disable the offending web content or the whole domain from the DNS systems. The effect would be to essentially wipe out the internet road map to the site as if it didn’t exist.

The professors warn that the SOPA legislation exacerbates the situation. “Under SOPA, IP rights holders can proceed vigilante-style against allegedly offending sites, without any court hearing or any judicial intervention or oversight whatsoever.” Furthermore they write, “All of this occurs based upon a notice delivered by the rights holder, which no neutral third party has even looked at, let alone adjudicated on the merits.”

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Article Author: Michael Peters

Michael D. Peters has been an independent information security consultant, executive, researcher, author, and catalyst with many years of information technology and business leadership experience. He has been referred to as the “Michelangelo of Security”. …

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