While the software alliance, which consists of most of the major players in the software sector, hasn’t done a complete 180, it is back-peddling a bit on its view of the Stop Online Piracy Act. (SOPA). The BSA released a statement via their blog acknowledging the impending breach of free speech and privacy this bill is set to foster.
Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill. It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors. To fix this problem, definitions of who can be the subject of legal actions and what remedies are imposed must be tightened and narrowed. Due process, free speech, and privacy are rights cannot be compromised.
It’s important to point out that this doesn’t mean they aren’t open to a different bill, but more, the negative press this bill in particular has caused is bad for business. Tech giants would love you to think they support your privacy, but we all know it’s way more about how they are being perceived and talked about on Twitter that they really care about. In fact, if there had been no uprising, if Twitter didn’t exist, it’s likely that the bill would have passed with full support of companies like Microsoft, Apple, and the rest of the BSA.
The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA for short, would allow companies to block domains of websites that may have appeared to support copyright infringement at some point. This would be accomplished by instantly modifying root DNS records which propagate down to all other DNS servers automatically. Your only defense as an end user would be self hosted and managed DNS. As a content provider you’d be helpless if this happened to you.
More and more groups are getting behind the abandonment of SOPA, including more than 60 civil and human rights organizations, which collectively wrote letters to Congress urging rejection of the bill.
Needless to say, this bill has the potential to cripple the Internet and freedom of speech. The US has long since criticized China’s decision to censor the Internet, yet here we sit considering the same exact thing.