An animated instructional video on the Domain Name System from dnsmadeeasy.com
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Tomorrow, December 15, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary will meet to markup and potentially vote in committee on H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA. Today the Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – of which ISOC-NY is a member – has written a letter to the House Committee expressing its profound concern with the proposed legislation, and the equivalent PROTECT-IP (PIPA) bill in the U.S. Senate, both of which would mandate the blocking and filtering of the Domain Name System (DNS).
In particular, the NCUC is very concerned with the provisions in both Bills relating to Domain Name System (DNS) filtering. As identified by numerous technical, legal and policy experts:
- DNS filtering is often proposed as a way to block illegal content consumption by end users. Yet policies to mandate DNS filtering will be ineffective for that purpose and will interfere with cross-border data flows and services undermining innovation and social development across the globe.
- Filtering DNS or blocking domain names does not remove the illegal content – it simply makes the content harder to find. Those who are determined to download filtered content can easily use a number of widely available, legitimately-proposed tools to circumvent DNS filtering regimes. As a result, DNS filtering encourages the creation of alternative, non-standard DNS systems.
- DNS filtering and blocking raises human right and freedom of expression concerns, and often curtails international principles regarding the rule of law, due process and justice. Some countries have employed DNS filtering and blocking as a way to restrict access to the global Internet and to curb free speech.
- The United States has historically advocated for freedom of expression and has been a strong proponent of online Internet freedoms. The United States Government has a significant responsibility to balance its domestic obligations and their potential global impact, especially with respect to Internet policy. Given its commitment to global Internet freedom, it would be detrimental to the global Internet if the United States were to insist on such an approach.
NCUC explains that the implications of legislation like PIPA and SOPA will be to have a negative impact upon the Internet’s design and can potentially create serious international political and legal problems. It will compromise Internet freedom held dearly by various organizations and institutions, like the OECD, the European Parliament, the Internet Society, and the Council of Europe – all of whom have committed to preserve this freedom and requested the United States to commit as well to preserving this freedom.
The letter ends with an appeal to the Committee to consider the viewpoints also expressed by a multitude of actors and organizations and not support legislation that undermines the global Internet.
[Washington, D.C. and Geneva, Switzerland – 12 December 2011] – The Internet Society Board of Trustees has expressed concern with a number of U.S. legislative proposals that would mandate DNS blocking and filtering by ISPs to protect the interests of copyright holders. While the Internet Society agrees that combating illicit online activity is an important public policy objective, these critical issues must be addressed in ways that do not undermine the viability of the Internet as a platform for innovation across all industries by compromising its global architecture. The Internet Society Board of Trustees does not believe that the Protect-IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are consistent with these basic principles.
Specifically, the Internet Society is concerned with provisions in both bills regarding Domain Name System (DNS) filtering. DNS filtering is often proposed as a way to block illegal content consumption by end users. Yet policies to mandate DNS filtering will be ineffective for that purpose and will interfere with cross-border data flows and services undermining innovation and social development across the globe.
On December 7 2011 the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School hosted a panel discussion – What’s Wrong With SOPA? – on the evils of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently before Congress.
- Mark Lemley – William H. Neukom Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
- Josh Mendelsohn – Partner, Hattery
- David Ulevitch – Founder & CEO, OpenDNS
- Paul Vixie – Chairman and Chief Scientist, Internet Systems Consortium
- Fred von Lohmann – Senior Copyright Counsel, Google
- Albert Wenger – Partner, Union Square Ventures
- Anthony Falzone – Executive Director, Fair Use Project at the Center for Internet and Society
The Internet Society has noted with concern a number of U.S. legislative proposals that would mandate DNS blocking and filtering by ISPs in order to protect the interests of copyright holders. We agree with proponents of the Protect-IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that combating illegal online activities is a very important public policy objective. However, policies that are enacted to achieve this goal must not undermine the viability of the Internet as a globally reachable platform. After close examination and consultation with the Internet community, we do not believe that the current U.S. legislative proposals are consistent with these basic principles.
In particular, we are concerned with provisions in both laws regarding DNS filtering. DNS filtering is often proposed as a way to block illegal content consumption by end users. Yet policies to mandate DNS filtering have not proven to be effective – these approaches interfere with cross-border data flows and services undermining innovation and social development across the globe. In addition, DNS blocking raises significant concerns with respect to human rights and freedom of expression and may curtail fundamental international principles of rule of law and due process.
The United States has an important leadership role when it comes to online Internet freedoms and should show the way when it comes to balancing local responsibilities and global impact, especially with respect to Internet policy.
In short, the negative impact of DNS filtering far outweighs any short-term, narrow, legal, and commercial benefits. The Internet Society believes that sustained, global collaboration amongst all parties is needed to find ways that protect the global architecture of the Internet while combating illegal online activities. We must all work to support the principles of innovation and freedom of expression upon which the Internet was founded.
Mike Masnick of techdirt argues that recent seizures of domain names by Homeland Security’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) group have dubious legal validity. Even the Supreme Court’s embrace of the concept of “inducement as contributory infringement” in the Grokster case didn’t contemplate it as criminal activity.
The actual seizure itself was handled clumsily, using outside contractors. The tracking of visitors to the seized sites contrary to government policy led many observers to initially conclude the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. This was compounded by the ICE delaying public statements so they could make a splash on “Black Monday”. Techdirt further noted in December just how inept and flimsy the case against one site – torrent-finder – was. If the standard – commercial sites that link to web items that advocate or facilitate filesharing – was applied across the board, the ICE would have to seize a large portion of the entire web!
The Internet Society has issued a statement criticizing recent technical efforts to suppress the Wikileaks website.
It reads as follows:
Recently, we have witnessed the effective disappearance from the Internet of a website made infamous through international press coverage and political intrigue.
The Internet Society is founded upon key principles of free expression and non discrimination that are essential to preserve the openness and utility of the Internet. We believe that this incident dramatically illustrates that those principles are currently at risk.
Recognizing the content of the wikileaks.org website is the subject of concern to a variety of individuals and nations, we nevertheless believe it must be subject to the same laws and policies of availability as all Internet sites. Free expression should not be restricted by governmental or private controls over computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential components of the Internet.
Resilience and cooperation are built into the Internet as a design principle. The cooperation among several organizations has ensured that the impact on the Wikileaks organizational website has not prevented all access to Wikileaks material. This further underscores that removal of a domain is an ineffective tool to suppress communication, merely serving to undermine the integrity of the global Internet and its operation.
Unless and until appropriate laws are brought to bear to take the wikileaks.org domain down legally, technical solutions should be sought to reestablish its proper presence, and appropriate actions taken to pursue and prosecute entities (if any) that acted maliciously to take it off the air.
A live audiocast of the ISOC briefing panel, “DNS, Secure at 27, what’s next?” being held in conjunction with IETF 78 on Tuesday, 27 July, 11:45am – 12:45pm CET (1345 UTC – 1445 UTC) will be available via WebEx.
+ Leslie Daigle
+ Patrik Fältström
+ Lars-Johan Liman
+ Barry Leiba
+ Danny McPherson
Testing quote: Victor Forsyuk, domain administrator ORG.UA considers a re-issue domain far-fetched. “I’ve always wondered – where did this idea that ICANN might have something to take away, give … Just yesterday, the words were published by the representative of ICANN in the countries of the CIS Veni Markovski Ushitsu statement refuting the alleged support of ICANN of their claims to the domain: “ICANN has no right to maintain an organization. ICANN is concerned that the Internet (DNS) has worked.” More worries me is how these people are manipulating the facts, declaring non-existent support ICAAN, and Ushitsu – for support of their second initiative, the domain. RBM, numerous Internet community “, – he said in an interviewhttp://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http://utro.ua/ru/zhizn/ukrainskiy_domen_v_tsentre_skandala1259764838&sl=ru&tl=en&swap=1