Today marks a huge victory for opponents of the anti-piracy legislation Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). The White House has officially responded to two online petitions which urged the President to reject or veto SOPA and PIPA. The White House has decided to make clear it will not support any legislation that disrupts the open standards of the internet. It should be noted however that the White House still believes online piracy to be a problem for the American economy, and that 2012 will most likely see the passage of narrower legislation targeting the source of foreign copyright infringement. The White House's statement also condemns DNS blocking in regulatory efforts as it will cause more cyber security problems, by driving users to dangerous and unreliable DNS servers. In the end the bad news seems to be that the legislation will if shot down make a reappearance, while the good news seems to be that there is some common sense prevailing on Capitol Hill.
This is not the end of the debate, the White House statement emphasized. "Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation," the letter also read.
As we previously reported the White House pulled support for SOPA and PIPA. In response to this it seems Congress will be forced to rewrite SOPA or write up an entirely new bill. This is due to pressure from companies, public sentiment, and a potential veto from the White House. Senator Partick Leahy who sponsors the bill has said he plans to propose amending the bill so ramifications of DNS blocking can be studied before implementation. Meanwhile Representative Lamar Smith who is sponsoring the House bill has said he plans to remove the provision altogether. That said three key sections of the legislation will likely remain, the compromised provisions will be aimed at getting search engines to disable links to infringing websites, provisions that cut off advertising services to said sites, and provisions to cut off payment processing. The critical provision that would force Version Communications, Comcast Corp and others to use DNS blocking will hopefully be eliminated altogether. The White House has also stated it will host a conference for opponents of the existing bill. Lets hope this conference will sway Congress to shut down SOPA as it is currently a horribly conceived piece of legislation.
In addition to concerns about the technical ramifications of DNS blocking and the practical issues associated with disabling services to individual websites, many in the Internet business fear the bills create far too much leeway to shut down websites without sufficient due process.