A group of 83 technology inventors and engineers, who collectively built the technology for the Internet, have warned that SOPA/ProtectIP are threats to the Internet’s continued operation. The number one signatory is Vint Cert, the co-inventor of TCP/IP, the underlying networking technology that is at the base of the Internet.
If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.
Update: And there is this highly appropriate take by Alexandra Petri in today’s Washington Post:
As long as there have been new technologies, the entertainment industry has been trying to get them shut down as filthy, thieving pirates. Video cassettes? Will anyone tune into TV again? MP3 players? Why even bother making a record? Digital video recorder that lets you skip ads? That’s a form of theft!
But SOPA is threatening to touch something far more precious than that — the glorious sprawl of the Internet.
SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a bill that, in the name of preventing online piracy of copyrighted work, creates a horrifyingly large censorship authority for the Internet. Among other things, it requires service providers (which have come out opposing the bill) to block access to entire sites if a user on the site is accused of copyright infringement.
There are dozens of reasons this is wrong. The biggest and most pressing is that not only does the bill not do what it sets out to do, it also creates a horrifyingly blunt instrument to censor the Internet.