Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SOPA Opponents Fight Back And Internet Experts Slated To Testify

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), a major opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act, announced Monday he is bringing in Silicon Valley experts to hold a public hearing highlighting the online security implications of the SOPA Act that would force changes to internet infrastructure to fight online copyright infringement.

The announcement came three weeks after a markup of SOPA in the House Judiciary Committee was abruptly postponed amid concerns over its blacklisting element, which lets the attorney general order changes to core internet infrastructure in order to stop copyright infringement.

The fight over SOPA is pitting the powerbrokers of Hollywood against their Silicon Valley counterparts. Hollywood argues that millions of jobs are lost a year due to pirate websites, while the tech industry argues that the open nature of the internet has created millions of jobs (jobs such as a humble blogger like me) and that copyright holders already have tools to fight illegal downloaders.

“An open internet is crucial to American job creation, government operations, and the daily routines of Americans from all walks of life,” Issa said in a statement. “The public deserves a full discussion about the consequences of changing the way Americans access information and communicate on the internet today.”Issa is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing is set for Jan. 18.

The legislation mandates that ISPs alter records in the net’s system for looking up website names, known as DNS, so that users couldn’t navigate to the site. Or, if ISPs choose not to introduce false information into DNS at the urging of the Justice Department, they instead would be required to employ some other method, such as deep-packet inspection, to prevent American citizens from visiting infringing sites or in other words censoring the internet and therefore violating the 1st amendments freedom of press by restricting public access to information.ISPs, could, for instance, adopt tactics used by the Great Chinese Firewall to sniff for traffic going to a blacklisted site and simply block it.Among those scheduled to testify are Stewart Baker, the former Department of Homeland Security policy director, who has said SOPA “would still do great damage to internet security.”Also slated to testify is DNS expert Dan Kaminsky of DKH. Putting false information into the DNS system — the equivalent of the net’s phonebook — would be ineffective, frustrate security initiatives and lead to software workarounds and a rise of hackers and hacking software that would just bypass many of the Acts new censorship policies, according to a paper co-signed by security experts Steve Crocker of Shinkuro, David Dagon of Georgia Tech, Danny McPherson of Verisign, Paul Vixie of Internet Systems Consortium and Kaminsky.

Others expected to testify include Brad Burnham, Partner at Union Square Ventures; Michael Macleod-Ball, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union; Lanham Napier, chief executive officer of Rackspace; Leonard Napolitano, director of the Center for Computer Sciences & Information Technology at Sandia National Laboratories; and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.com.

On Dec. 16, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who heads the House Judiciary Committee, halted the SOPA markup so the committee could hear from technical experts. However, no new hearing before that committee has been scheduled.The Judiciary Committee, however, did hear from the Motion Picture Industry Association of America in November, but has never called an expert on internet architecture. Michael O’Leary, an MPAA vice president, had testified before the committee that security concerns were “overstated.”In the security context, many internet experts maintain the bill would break the internet’s universal character and hamper U.S. government-supported efforts to rollout out DNS-SEC, which is intended to prevent hackers from hijacking the net through fake DNS entries.

Along with Industry experts up in arms, many are suggesting that websites like Facebook and Google my protest by temporarily taking down their sites, both sites are firmly opposed to the Act. Other sites such as Reddit may be taken down permenantly due to the overall nature of the site. The Act which is attaining little publicity will likely enrage many who patron the internet on a regular basis and would likely cause an immediate backlash against new rules.

The Bill is a continuing fight by many in congress to further strip American's of civil liberties since the start of the war on terror, starting with the Patriot Act which allowed wiretapping without warrant and continued with the recently signed into law National Defense Athorization Act which allows Americans to be indefinitely detained without charges or trial, even if merely suspected of engaging in so-called "terrorist activity." Along with recent discoveries by hackers of the German Government using spyware to literally spy on their people, hacking into web cams, monitoring websites visited, and acquiring personal documents saved to the hard drive of many victims. We as a people should not tolerate our governments, especially in a so-called free society, of taking our Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties from us. Though in the days of our founding fathers they did not have the internet or computers many, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, advocated against such future tyrannies. I will leave you with a quote from Benjamin Franklin "Any society that would give up a little freedom for a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

SOPA Opponents Fight Back And Internet Experts Slated To Testify

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