18th Jan2012

SOPA – How it Affects You

by GoodFellasCigars

Below are excerpts and information on SOPA from CNET.com and our commentary CNET’s article
Click here for CNET’s article on SOPA

There is a lot of question and concerns about SOPA and how it would affect websites, companies, and everyone on the internet. The main target seems to be foreign websites (those out side the US) that violate copyright but language in the bill suggests that even websites within the United States could fall under of this bill. Could your favorite website be blocked because one page on it was suspected of copyright infringement? This could be possible under SOPA and in response of this bill many websites have blackedout in protest of SOPA including Google and Wikipedia (see above) on January 18. This bill if passed may dramatically change Internet as we know it. Will any website be on the web be safe form this legislation? Now many of you may be thinking that if a website violates copyright then they should not be exempt. Well think of this many websites have thousands of pages. What if just one of those pages was suspected of copyright infringement? That site could disappear from the United States. Here is another thing to think about: if YouTube began under this bill would it be in violation of copyright? Have you ever listed to music on YouTube that did not have permission to be posted by the artist; that is copyright violation.

Below are experts from CNET that have caught our eye.

How would SOPA work?

It allows the U.S. attorney general to seek a court order against the targeted offshore Web site that would, in turn, be served on Internet providers in an effort to make the target virtually disappear. It’s kind of an Internet death penalty.

More specifically, section 102 of SOPA says that, after being served with a removal order:

 A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order…Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within five days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.

What are the security-related implications of SOPA?

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 subcommittee on cybersecurity, has said that an “unintended consequence” of SOPA would be to “undercut” the effort his panel has been making to promote DNSSEC.

The Sandia National Laboratories, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, has also raised concerns about SOPA, saying it is “unlikely to be effective” and will “negatively impact U.S. and global cybersecurity and Internet functionality.” And Stewart Baker, the former policy chief at the Department of Homeland Security who’s now in private practice, warned in an op-ed that SOPA “runs directly counter” to the House’s own cybersecurity efforts.

An analysis (PDF) of Protect IP prepared by five Internet researchers this spring lists potential security problems. Among them: it’s “incompatible” with DNSSEC, innocent Web sites will be swept in as “collateral damage,” and the blacklist can be bypassed by using the numeric Internet address of a Web site. The address for CNET.com, for instance, is currently 64.30.224.118.

Are there free speech implications to SOPA?

SOPA’s opponents say so–a New York Times op-ed called it the “Great Firewall of America–and the language of the bill itself is quite broad. Section 103 says that, to be blacklisted, a Web site must be “directed” at the U.S. and also that the owner “has promoted” acts that can infringe copyright.

Here’s how Section 101 of the original version of SOPA defines what a U.S.-directed Web site is:

(A) the Internet site is used to provide goods or services to users located in the United States;
(B) there is evidence that the Internet site or portion thereof is intended to offer or provide such goods and services (or) access to such goods and services (or) delivery of such goods and services to users located in the United States;
(C) the Internet site or portion thereof does not contain reasonable measures to prevent such goods and services from being obtained in or delivered to the United States; and
(D) any prices for goods and services are indicated or billed in the currency of the United States.

Some critics have charged that such language could blacklist the next YouTube, Wikipedia, or WikiLeaks. Especially in the case of WikiLeaks, which has posted internal documents not only from governments but also copyrighted documents from U.S. companies and has threatened to post more, it’s hard to see how it would not qualify for blacklisting.

Laurence Tribe, a high-profile Harvard law professor and author of a treatise titled American Constitutional Law, has argued that SOPA is unconstitutional because, if enacted, “an entire Web site containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement.”

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Click here for CNET’s full article on SOPA