SOPA and PIPA and DNS: An open letter to Congress

DNS

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SOPA and PIPA are pieces of legislation currently under consideration in the United States Congress that have serious implications for DNS, the Domain Name System which makes possible the Internet as we know it. To give them their full names these bills are HR 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and S.968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).

More than 100 million Internet users in over 180 countries rely on ESET products to protect their personal and enterprise data systems. This gives ESET a fairly unique perspective on the DNS filtering proposed by SOPA and PIPA. There is hardly any part of the United States economy today that does not depend upon the smooth operation of the Internet, which it turn relies upon the integrity of the Domain Name system. Along with many others in the Internet community I am of the opinion that the DNS filtering proposed in SOPA and PIPA would seriously undermine that integrity.

That's why I think these bills, as currently written, are bad for the Internet and bad for our economy, a point of view that I have expressed to legislators in an open letter to Congress (PDF). In addition to a number of technical issues that others have documented in detail, the DNS filtering proposed in SOPA and PIPA appears to be at odds with the sterling efforts of United States law enforcement agencies that are leading the world in the fight against cybercrime, a point made by ESET Security Evangelist Stephen Cobb in a recent post here on the Threat Blog: DNSChanger and PROTECT IP: FBI hit and legislative miss. Together with many of my colleagues in a wide range of high tech companies I urge Congress to think again.

Andrew Lee
CEO
ESET North America
 

Author Andrew Lee, ESET

  • Jedediah Crary

    I’m really worried about the way the internet is being abused. We are going down a very slippery slope. Instead of being a tool for democracy increasingly the internet is coming under corporate control. I’m seeing that the internet is used for surveillance of people while usefull information is to be put behind paywalls. SOPA and PIPA is just a furtherance of this trend. How are we different from China imposing this kind censorship. I’m not interested in the resources of my government being used to protect dubious business models.

    • David Harley

      It’s not quite that simple: the internet has created enormous opportunities for piracy, and that affects not only the big corporations, but everyone who actually creates pirate-able material. (He said with the deep feeling that comes from bitter experience…) No-one at ESET is likely to argue with a rational attempt to mitigate the problem: software companies get ripped off too. But this legislation does, intentionally or not, prioritise the interests of one group of corporates over the common good: even if it turned out to be effective, it would have a negative impact on the safety of many others. All I’d ask is for the legislators to take that into account and hear the technical arguments for the other side.

  • Chris

    The internet has always been under corporate control, despite Al Gore's claims that he invented it. Internet traffic travels through privately owned fibre and computers. If a publisher of information wants to sell information, rather than give it away, that's their business, it's their information and code. That information and code is legal property.
    The only people who need to be censored are the criminals who steal and destroy and produce nothing of value themselves. The people who produce in life have no reason to steal, for they can always produce more than they could steal and stealing has a certain liability to it. The banker, government official and non-working deadbeats are the criminals in our society today, none produce anything of value, yet these consume massive quantities of goods and services at the expense of the working people.
    From my many long years of life I've come to realize that the bulk of government regulations has little to do with safety and much more to do with centrallizing power over people's choices. The Patriot Act and Obama care are two clear examples. Each interferes with the lives of hundreds of millions, costs trillions and have a net negative benefit. The purpose of these laws is not real help, but control. They are oppressive to the American people.
     

  • Jedediah Crary

    The one and only use for the internet has not always been to make a quick buck. Ok I found a link to something more in line with business interests. Chris am I stealing if I link to an article on the internet? Here we have an example of fraud using rules developed to protect intellectual property. Let me agree with you that safety regulations are often used by large businesses to destroy the smaller competitors. I suspect that a big part of our big government problem is due to large corporations lobbying for destructive paperwork making legislation.

  • Austin Hoffman

    This is just terrible….SOPA is the equivalent of curing a headache with a guillotine. It may stop piracy, but it would shut down our economy and unconstitutionally erode our most basic freedoms in the process.

    I just hope that everyone realizes how important this is and does their part to save the internet & our economy! …here is another good video that explains the consequences of SOPA pretty well:

    1,000s of more websites have joined the force and went dark today, we need EVERYONES help!!!!
     

  • Daniel

    A question to think about: Freedom of people but what about the rights of the companies?

    • David Harley

      @Daniel: certainly a consideration. The question is whether the rights of companies override the good of the community, and how to handle situations where they conflict.

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