Tag Archives: SOPA

SOPA Sent to an Early Grave Under Sheer Pressure from Internet Users

If you were not living under a rock for the last few months, you probably have heard about SOPA. It was a bill that would have killed the free Internet and made it a regulated and sugarcoated media of all things good! The bill was ridiculous enough to penalize entire websites for a single sensitive content that any user posted. It is time to rejoice finally, as SOPA has been withdrawn and the voice of the people has won through.

The Examiner reports this refreshing news, saying

In a surprise move today, Representative Eric Cantor(R-VA) announced that he will stop all action on SOPA, effectively killing the bill. This move was most likely due to several things. One of those things is that SOPA and PIPA met huge online protest against the bills. Another reason would be that the White House threatened to veto the bill if it had passed.

Both tech-giants and First Amendment advocates went all out against SOPA, and brought it down. In the midst of this, GoDaddy lost thousands of domains, Comcast issued a network upgrade rendering DNS blocking ineffective and Kaspersky withdrew support for SOPA. However, the strongest blow came from the White House, which finally decided to oppose SOPA, leaving the bill helpless.

SOPA was a desperate attempt by the media industry to regulate and control the Internet. Now that it is gone, all those protests should be focused against PIPA, which is another bill of the same nature as SOPA. It should face the same opposition as SOPA and meet its demise.

Comcast Faces a Dilemma between SOPA and Technological Advancements

Comcast has recently deployed DNSSEC across its entire network. This will protect Internet users by checking websites for a special DNS signature and identifying them. It is a new technology that protects users from phishing websites. However, Comcast had to pay a price for this network upgrade. After this upgrade, the Comcast network is incompatible with DNS redirect tools. Comcast has been one of the primary supporters of SOPA and this upgrade eliminates the possibility of DNS level blocking, something that SOPA was totally relying on for removing supposedly rouge websites.

If you were wondering what DNSSEC is,

The Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) is a suite of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications for securing certain kinds of information provided by the Domain Name System (DNS) as used on Internet Protocol (IP) networks. It is a set of extensions to DNS, which provide to DNS clients (resolvers) origin authentication of DNS data, authenticated denial of existence, and data integrity, but not availability or confidentiality.

Comcast DNS Engineering Manager, Chris Griffith, says

DNS redirect services… are technically incompatible with DNSSEC and / or create conditions that can be indistinguishable from malicious modifications of DNS traffic.

Comcast is torn apart between its lobbyists and technical force. As evident from this, SOPA is bad for business and after all, business is what every company is out here to do! This move by Comcast also sends a strong message that when it comes to SOPA vs. business; companies will obviously go for business. With SOPA getting weaker each day, let us all hope that this SOPA soap opera ends soon.

As SOPA Nears the Next Hurdle, Tech Giants Consider a Massive Blackout in Protest

SOPA has been in news for a long time now, and unless you were living under a rock, you probably already know what it is. However, if you do not know what SOPA is, you can read our coverage of the entire SOPA drama so far. Keeping it short and simple, SOPA is an internet censorship bill that can be used to expel entire websites from the Internet, for publishing infringing content.

SOPA has been opposed in writing and many other forms of expression. The founding fathers of the Internet sent an open letter to the US Government not to consider SOPA, Wikipedia planned a blackout and Reddit is already trying to build a second Internet circumventing SOPA. However, the US Government is keen on introducing this bill, thanks to the pressure from the media industry lobby. GoDaddy put up quite a show and axed its own foot. Additionally, the Sinde Law (like SOPA) passed by Spain was probably written with aid from the US Government. Kaspersky Labs withdrew from SOPA and even the European Union opposes SOPA. In short, other than the media industry, the whole world opposes SOPA.

However, as the final hearing date for SOPA approaches, tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter have decided to join hands to bring out a deadly weapon from their arsenal. All these tech giants are part of the Net Coalition group, and they have decided to blackout their homepages with anti-censorship warnings, urging users to contact their representatives in the government.

The group of Internet companies opposing SOPA is not as capable and profit making as the lobbyists supporting it. Nonetheless, they have a direct interaction with the people and represent them better. Moreover, when a considerable chunk of data on the Internet is real-time information about the same people, they have a right to oppose SOPA equally as companies are doing now.

Spain is No More a File Sharer’s Safe Haven

For over a decade, Spain has harbored file-shares and has been lenient in handling cases involving illegal file sharing. In most of these cases, P2P indexing sites were declared to be operating legally. However, the new Partido Popular (People’s Party) government in Spain has passed the Sinde Law within two weeks of coming in power. This law will let copyright holders claim the takedown of a website, and the claim will be acted upon within ten days.

The passing of the Sinde Law was influenced by the United States after Spain’s decade-long liberal stance on file sharing. According to WikiLeaks, the US Government drafted the law on behalf of the Spanish Government. BoingBoing reported this last month saying,

Spain’s Congress is about to vote on a new and extremely harsh copyright/Internet law. It is an open secret that the law was essentially drafted by American industry groups working with the US trade representative.

The Spanish Government believes that this law is at par, with “international standards in the fight against piracy”. If a copyright holder fails to identify the owner of a website with infringing content, he may ask the court to compel service providers and telephone companies to give up the details of such an owner. Twitter reactions on the bill can be found at the hashtags #RedResiste and #noalapirateria.

As more and more governments push their own versions of censorship bills, the Internet will have too many masters to please. The passing of the Sinde Law will also help the US observe if SOPA might turn out to be fruitful.

Did Godaddy Support SOPA to Seek Immunity in an Ongoing Case?

Just a few days ago, GoDaddy lost a substantial part of its customer base, thanks to its support of SOPA. Nearly seventy four thousand domains were withdrawn from GoDaddy in five days. XDA forum joined the exodus list recently. Supporting SOPA has indeed proved to be bad for business (in case of GoDaddy). However, it is interesting to note that GoDaddy was supporting a bill that only made it guiltier in an ongoing case.

GoDaddy supported SOPA while fighting a court-case against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). In this case, GoDaddy was sued for registering a few domains, which people used to promote the Oscar event. The proceedings of the case went to extreme levels requiring GoDaddy to explain its business practices, especially how it makes money with parked domains. GoDaddy founder and ex-CEO Bob Parson had a tough time facing 74,000 lost domains and a strong court case against it, which read as,

Suing under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the Academy disputes more than a 100 domain names, including 2011oscars.com, academyawardz.com, jaylenososcars.com, betacademyawards.com, oscarsunplugged.com, oscarshotels.com, oscarstravel.com, oscarsliveblogging.com … etc. Damages could total as much as $10 million.

Clearly, GoDaddy knew that supporting SOPA was absolutely weakening its case. So why did it support the bill after all? Probably, it was hoping to waive the case off. However, it did not know that sharks are not to be befriended.

Big Shot Gaming Companies Drop Support for SOPA

Well it seems like the much maligned Stop Online Privacy Act has been steadily losing support as time goes by. The Internet, for all its loose frivolities and nonexistent persistent loyalties has banded together to effectively stop a Big Brother-like monitoring legal tool from ever being born. As the senate keeps debating the bill, many of the copyright-loving companies such as EA, Sony and Nintendo have been pressurized by both their fans online as well as their employees to drop support for this bill.

USSenate

SOPA, along with its sister law PROTECT-IP has been at the receiving end of much criticism from the citizens of the United States. The bills, if enacted, will allow any content-owning person to order a takedown of a site that either hosts their content or even links to their content. Considering that much of the internet is based upon the linking to-and-fro of copyrighted content, this effectively curbs the freedom of the internet as we know it. Moreover, if the content owner so wishes, he or she may order the IP address of the infringing site to be blacklisted, rendering the site inaccessible. The kind of horror this can inflict upon aggregation sites such as Reddit is unfathomable.

We just have to hope that big wigs like Nintendo, Sony and EA keep dropping their support and that this bill is never passed.

With Everyone Busy Opposing SOPA, Sister Bill “PROTECT IP” Might Enjoy a Free Pass

SOPA has been worrying all Internet and free speech enthusiasts, but in the midst of the entire SOPA outcry, we forgot the PROTECT IP (PIPA) bill, which passed unanimously at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Given this fact, although not as dangerous as SOPA, PIPA poses an immediate risk to us all. PIPA needs to be opposed next, as its next hearing is due on 24 January next year.

The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011; United States Senate Bill S.968) is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and 11 initial bipartisan co-sponsors introduced the bill on May 12, 2011.

With SOPA being opposed by every Tom Dick and Harry out there, its backers were left with no choice. Therefore, they decided to jump on the PIPA bandwagon. According to a post on Reddit, PIPA has already gathered a support of 40 senators and needs 20 more to pass to the House. Now, Redditors are up in protest against PIPA. They are working hard to let senators know that PIPA is as undesirable as SOPA. If you think this bill does not do justice to the Internet and to free speech, you can join them in this fight.

The US is keen on censorship. It is introducing one offensive bill after another. Burns from COICA last year had not healed, when PIPA arrived and now SOPA was barely averted. Apparently, the media industry is trying its best to push the Internet into censorship, the people are opposing it to their best capacity, and the Government only stands as an enabler with no wise decision of its own!

GoDaddy Becomes FlipFlopDaddy In Its Support for SOPA

As you may already know, SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is an internet regulatory bill that is being proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to Wikipedia, SOPA would:
allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a felony. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.

Yesterday, we reported that GoDaddy, a premier domain registry service, was one of 150 backers of the SOPA regulations. As a result, dozens of companies and individuals either left GoDaddy’s services or threatened to leave them.

Later, GoDaddy flip-flopped and is “backing off” in its support of SOPA. It’s doubtful that most people believe GoDaddy’s stated reasons for changing this position. GoDaddy’s CEO, Warren Adelman, was quoted as saying There has to be concensus about the leadership of the internet community. It’s a large community and a global one.

I believe that the threat of losing business has more to do with GoDaddy’s change of heart concerning SOPA than any concern about a concensus. Up until now, GoDaddy seemed to be more concerned about protecting the wishes of big government and big media groups such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Firstly, I can’t understand why the GoDaddy execs decided that it was a good idea for them to work on regulating the internet. Secondly, I think SOPA is a bad idea, not the answer to a problem that mainly exists in the meeting rooms of a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry. The cost of regulations are always paid by consumers, and internet users will end up paying the price if the SOPA supporters get their way. I hope that this flip-flop from GoDaddy is a sign that internet users are being heard, and that their voices are crying “The internet is not broken – stop trying to fix it“.


via American Censorship

GoDaddy Supports SOPA, Sparks Exodus From Its Registry Service

When the list of supporters for the Stop Online Privacy Act of the United States of America was put up online, many of the companies were large storehouses of copyrighted information and were predictably backing up this Act. However, one prominent company in that list was GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the largest domain name registrar of the world with [and I quote their own post] around 50 million names registered   to their service.

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This did not sit well with Reddit user selfprodigy. Selfprodigy moved 51 domains of his small business, his personal domain, as well as threatening to move 300 domains of his company, whose IT he manages, away from GoDaddy.

I just finished writing GoDaddy a letter stating why I’m moving my small businesses 51 domains away from them, as well as my personal domains. I also pointed out that i transferred over 300 domains to them as a director of IT for a major American company.

The end result of this post? A massive exodus from GoDaddy to other registrars such as Namecheap and Hostgator. Joining the ranks of these people is Ben Huh, the CEO of the famous (?) Cheezburger group of sites, threatening to move his 1,000 domains away from GoDaddy unless they stop supporting the SOPA:-

Capitalizing on this opportunity are other registrars who are all offering discounts and the like for new registrations and transfers. such as Hostgator, Name.com, EasyDNS and others.

GoDaddy’s statement on this growing concern is one of infinite confidence in itself. To it, these are but a few drops in a boundless ocean of revenue. Yet I am sure that these drops will rain upon them in a torrent of retribution (pun intended). Protect the freedom of the internet, everyone!

The Elders of the Internet Take a Last Stand Against SOPA

SOPA has been ridiculed and has been called by various derogatory names over the last few months. However, the day of SOPA’s appearance before the Senate is closing in, and the bill is passing through unobstructed, as if it has a pre-determined fate. There has been massive online agitation against the bill to no avail. The bill is being discussed at the Judiciary Committee today, and very soon, its will be decided, probably in favor of the media giants it serves.

As a last stand against SOPA and the notoriety it can raise, a group of 83 key people (internet inventors and engineers) sent an open letter to the members of the United States Congress, stating their opposition to this infernal bill, which curbs free speech and the freedom of online expression.

The exact content of the letter says,

We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We’re just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.

Last year, many of us wrote to you and your colleagues to warn about the proposed “COICA” copyright and censorship legislation. Today, we are writing again to reiterate our concerns about the SOPA and PIPA derivatives of last year’s bill, that are under consideration in the House and Senate. In many respects, these proposals are worse than the one we were alarmed to read last year.

If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but these bills are particularly egregious in that regard because they cause entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under these proposals. In fact, it seems that this has already begun to happen under the nascent DHS/ICE seizures program.

Censorship of Internet infrastructure will inevitably cause network errors and security problems. This is true in China, Iran and other countries that censor the network today; it will be just as true of American censorship. It is also true regardless of whether censorship is implemented via the DNS, proxies, firewalls, or any other method. Types of network errors and insecurity that we wrestle with today will become more widespread, and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government.

The current bills — SOPA explicitly and PIPA implicitly — also threaten engineers who build Internet systems or offer services that are not readily and automatically compliant with censorship actions by the U.S. government. When we designed the Internet the first time, our priorities were reliability, robustness and minimizing central points of failure or control. We are alarmed that Congress is so close to mandating censorship-compliance as a design requirement for new Internet innovations. This can only damage the security of the network, and give authoritarian governments more power over what their citizens can read and publish.

The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open Internet, both domestically and abroad. We cannot have a free and open Internet unless its naming and routing systems sit above the political concerns and objectives of any one government or industry. To date, the leading role the US has played in this infrastructure has been fairly uncontroversial because America is seen as a trustworthy arbiter and a neutral bastion of free expression. If the US begins to use its central position in the network for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.

Senators, Congressmen, we believe the Internet is too important and too valuable to be endangered in this way, and implore you to put these bills aside.

The letter has been signed by eminent people like Vincent Cerf- the co-designer of TCP/IP and one of the earliest founding fathers of the Internet, Paul Vixie- the author of BIND which is the most popular DNS software, Ben Laurie- founder of the Apache Software Foundation and Jim Gettys who authored the HTTP/1.1 protocol used for most web-transfers. The list is 83 people long and includes networking gurus who worked on the early version of the Internet, top-level ex-employees of organizations like ICANN, IETF, Nokia, DARPA and likewise.

Never before in the history of mankind have so many eminent personalities from the world of computer networks joined hands for a single cause. It would be of great shame for a nation to harbor such a priceless talent pool, yet, not pay heed to their pleas, and decide the fate of their creation.

SOPA is a bill of interest for the US government because it also gives the US Government a kill-switch to the Internet. With numerous websites registered with domestic registrars in the US, this bill will play a big role in censoring of negative sentiments against governments, key people and key industry establishments.