The Obama Administration on Saturday took a stance on two pieces of anti-online piracy legislation moving through Congress -- the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate --- saying it would not support the bills as currently written, handing the biggest victory yet to a growing chorus of critics of the bills.
"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet....
Even more promising for critics of the bills, the Administration came down firmly against one of the most vehemently opposed portions of the bills -- the part that would give the government the power to force Internet Service Providers to stop loading overseas webpages accused of piracy. Under the original versions of SOPA and PIPA, ISPs would be required to change their Doman Name System settings to block sites accused of piracy, a measure that critics said would essentially break the Internet and make it more insecure.
The Administration statement basically agrees with the critics wholeheartedly on this one:
"We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.
The two primary architects of the bills -- Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) both decided late last week to remove the DNS-blocking provisions before even the Administration released its public statement.
Further, SOPA's passage through the House seems to have been indefinitely stalled, as SOPA critic Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said on Saturday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) promised not to bring the bill up to the full House for a vote until a consensus is reached, The Hill reported.