Anti-Piracy Bill at Odds With Federal Enforcement Efforts

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-11-17 Print this article Print


Security and technology experts are concerned about the DNS filtering proposed in SOPA and, to some extent, in Protect IP. "There is hardly any part of the United States economy today that does not depend upon the smooth operation of the Internet, which in turn relies upon the integrity of [DNS]," wrote Andrew Lee, CEO of ESET, in a letter to Congress. DNS filtering as outlined in SOPA "would seriously undermine that integrity," according to Lee.

Lee also noted that the DNS provisions appear "to be at odds with the sterling efforts" of U.S. law enforcement. Just last week, the FBI arrested a group of cyber-criminals who had been using the DNSchanger Trojan to "subvert DNS for illegal purposes" and diverting users to sites other than where they were trying to go, wrote Steve Cobb, a security evangelist for ESET.

"How disappointing then to get an email later the same day, also about DNS changing, but this time the DNS changer is the U.S. government itself," Cobb wrote. It seems "unwise to give private companies the ability to go ahead and change DNS armed only with court orders" while the FBI works hard to stop the bad guys from making millions by "subverting DNS," he said.

Cobb also warned that DNS filtering is "fundamentally incompatible" with Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), a new security technology that is slowly gaining adoption to make it harder to abuse the DNS system.

The bill in its current form doesn't effectively differentiate between actual pirates and mainstream sites where users may post content, such as Twitter, Tumblr, Google and Facebook. SOPA needs to be amended to define rogues as those "primarily dedicated to infringing activities," rather than sites that are used by pirates to facilitate their activities, according to Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at nonprofit think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute.

If the site gets shut down by the ISP or have it relationships with the advertising networks and payment processors severed, the site owner can petition the courts to have the injunction lifted.

Radia recommends an amendment that would force copyright holders to shoulder the costs incurred by defendants in case the order was improperly issued. At the moment, there are no penalties against the copyright holder for being wrong.

Without these changes, the bill in its current form "would cast a cloud of legal uncertainty over America's innovative, startup-driven Internet economy," Radia said.

"Trying to stop piracy by adding new tools to disable access to the piracy channels is a futile strategy for most software vendors," said Vic DeMarines, vice president of product strategy at V.i. Labs, an anti-piracy software vendor that helps enterprises track unlicensed software being used within the organization.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel