Stop Online Piracy Act

By Everett Toews, Senior Developer, Edmonton

"The originally proposed bill 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 above quote is from the Wikipedia page on the USA's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). On the off chance you haven't heard about SOPA, now is a good time to read a bit about it. Think about how, if passed, this bill could affect your activities on the Internet from a business and personal perspective.

My emphasis on the word accused, above, highlights the truly scary part about SOPA. The mere accusation of infringement can cause a website to be DNS blacklisted. Goodbye YouTube, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Facebook – you name it. Any site that allows user content and, hence, the ability to upload or link to copyrighted content, is a target for SOPA.

This is a serious threat to the Cyberinfrastructure of the entire Internet. Sure, there are technical ways to get around this blacklisting, but that's not the point. People should not have to jump through hoops to get to their favourite sites. And all of this on top of the negative impact this could have on DNS, DNSSEC and Internet security.

So what is being done about it?

eBay, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia, among others, are considering a blackout of their sites to protest the bill.

What am I doing about it?

I am boycotting GoDaddy.com, a (former) supporter of SOPA, and am in the process of moving all of my domains away from it. Although GoDaddy now claims to oppose SOPA, the damage has been done and my level of trust in this company has gone from low to non-existant.

What else can we do?

You can sign the Avaaz Internet protest, but I'm not sure what else can be done except to boycot SOPA-supporting companies. If you can think of any other ways, please feel free to share them in the comments below.