House Judiciary Committee Delays SOPA Vote
Sponsor of the act Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has agreed to continue studies of the proposed act, which aims to thwart copyright infringement online.
If passed, SOPA would allow for the Attorney General to take action in court against what the entertainment industry calls "rouge web sites" by way of the Internet Service Providers.
According to the Section 102 of SOPA, if a site is in question of copyright infringement, "A service provider shall take tenchically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by it's subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order…"
Rights holder would have the ability to send forth a written notification to the identified site and seek a limited injunction relief against the owner according to the bill summary. This stoppage would occur as soon as five days within the notice being served.
Many tech analysts have spoken out against the proposed act calling in to question the issues of free speech and online security.
One big one is how it interacts with the domain name system and a set of security improvements to it known as DNSSEC.
The idea of DNSSEC is to promote end-to-end encryption of domain names, meaning there's no break in the chain between, say, Wellsfargo.com and its customer. Requiring Internet providers to redirect allegedly piratical domain names to, say, the FBI's servers isn't compatible with DNSSEC.
Rep. Dan Lungren, who heads the Homeland Security subcommitteee on cybersecurity, said last week that an "unintended consequence" of SOPA would be to "undercut" the effort his panel has been making to promote DNSSEC.
Consequently, any sites that are deemed as a danger to copyrighted materials could be blacklisted and completely blocked from view by the Internet Service Providers.
And, because SOPA's language a broad and general, it may mean companies and organizations erring on the side of caution harming innovations online.
From the New York Times (OP-ED):
Adding to the threat to free speech, recent academic research on global Internet censorship has found that in countries where heavy legal liability is imposed on companies, employees tasked with day-to-day censorship jobs have a strong incentive to play it safe and over-censor — even in the case of content whose legality might stand a good chance of holding up in a court of law. Why invite legal hassle when you can just hit “delete”?
The next step for SOPA will be the House Committee vote, which may resume as soon as Wednesday according to the Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California).
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