Internet legislation that is scheduled for a vote in the U.S. Senate next month would aim to stop the unlicensed downloading of billions of dollars’ worth of movies and music—as well as the trade in counterfeit drugs and other goods—by blocking access to certain websites, many of them registered abroad. But its basic strategies could lead to trouble on several fronts.
For something, the crackdown would possibly unintentionally weaken internet security. that may be because the regulation may just allow courts order web carrier suppliers, engines like google, domain-name servers and others to block internet addresses or send other people to addresses instead of the ones they typed or clicked. That trick, known as redirection, is solely let factor safety engineers want to stamp out, because it’s also a key software for committing internet fraud.
For another, song and movie traders will always be able to use widely available circumvention tools—such as Tor, a technology funded and developed by the U.S. government itself—to get around blocks and reach the desired sites. If passed, the legislation may achieve little more than an ineffectual antipiracy law recently enacted in France, which has been bogged down by its complexity and costs.
Under the Protect IP Act, government prosecutors or copyright holders could seek a court order finding that a website was dedicated to infringing activities. With such a finding, a court could order those sites blocked so as to prevent people who click the relevant links or type their domain names into a browser from actually reaching them. (Instead, the user might be redirected to a warning page.) The Senate bill is scheduled for a January 24 vote. A similar House bill, called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, is still in the Judiciary Committee.
Redirecting other folks from domain names they’d typed or clicked would upend efforts to make the area-identify system extra safe, a number of researchers have argued. the protection neighborhood is trying to inform Congress you can’t construct a device that distinguishes between a central authority-required false solution and a hacker’s false solution, says Ernesto Falcon, director of government affairs at Public knowledge, a free-speech assume tank in Washington, DC. in case you have ISPs and the domain-name device falsify knowledge and provides other folks mistaken [Web pages], then efforts to construct a safe gadget won’t paintings.
If the U.S. government were to order the widespread blocking of websites, authoritarian regimes that censor the Internet would be likely to trumpet the news for political cover, argues Hal Roberts, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, who has made several studies of the means by which China and other countries filter online content. China and other countries happily defend their filtering practices by pointing out that some Western countries filter as well, Roberts says, and laws like SOPA will only make it easier for them.
SOPA has the support of more than 140 companies and organizations, mainly in the music, book, television, and film industries. Many major Internet companies oppose it.
There’s little proof that an identical regulation in other places has worked. In 2009, for example, France passed three moves law that used to be supposed to require web carrier suppliers to bring to an end get right of entry to to those who had left out warnings to prevent buying and selling pirated works. the government arrange a forms to put in force the measure in advance this year. but precise enforcement has been gradual in coming; ISPs say the task of tracking pirated works is very costly, and they would like the govt. to pay for it.
In the case of the U.S. legislation, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that hiring enforcement staff in the U.S. Department of Justice would cost $47 million over the next five year.