THE US GOVERNMENT has taken a stance in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, prompting an outburst on Twitter from Rupert Murdoch.
The White House has responded to petitions about these bills that raise objections to the jackboot power they would wield over the internet. In a blog post the White House conceded that they need work.
The statement, which is signed by Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement coordinator at the Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra, US chief technology officer, and, perhaps most significantly, Howard Schmidt, special assistant to the President and cybersecurity coordinator for national security, concedes that the acts are controversial and need more attention.
"Right now, Congress is debating a few pieces of legislation concerning the very real issue of online piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the PROTECT IP Act, and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN)," it says.
"We want to take this opportunity to tell you what the Administration will support-and what we will not support... While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
The post says that any efforts to tackle 'piracy' must guard against censorship of lawful activity, which is something that critics say SOPA and PIPA will not do, support legitimate business, and not damage the Domain Name System (DNS) or the internet in general.
The White House's analysis of DNS filtering finds that the legislation "drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk".
Last week Senator Leahy suggested that there are issues with PIPA and the way that it could impact DNS, but only said that there could be some debate on the issue.
"I remain confident that the ISPs - including the cable industry, which is the largest association of ISPs - would not support the legislation if its enactment created the problems that opponents of this provision suggest," he said. "Nonetheless, this is in fact a highly technical issue, and I am prepared to recommend we give it more study before implementing it."
Last week Comcast, a significant US ISP, implemented Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) across its network. Comcast is a SOPA supporter.
Rupert Murdoch, who seems to have taken to Twitter with some enthusiasm, voiced his disgust at the announcement on his social networking account.
"So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery," he said. Murdoch, perhaps maddened by the prospect of less draconian legislation then began suggesting that these "paymasters" include Google, which he suggested, was not doing much to prevent 'piracy'.
"Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying," he added, "Just been to google search for mission impossible. Wow, several sites offering free links. I rest my case."
Google opposes SOPA and is one of a number of firms that co-signed a letter with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in opposition. "We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let's not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had," said the letter that was co-signed by Sergey Brin, amongst others.
Google also works with media firms to take down material, as one of its policy makers told Murdoch.
"@rupertmurdoch FYI, you already have takedown powers under 17 USC 512(d). Do a search for 'google copyright removal'," he said before offering the CEO of News Corp advice on how to do that.
"Really cool that @rupertmurdoch had 'one complaint' about Google, and it could be remedied in a single tweet," he added. µ