updated 04:00 pm EST, Sat January 14, 2012
Obama White House says SOPA DNS changes won't work
The Obama administration in a direct response on Saturday hinted it would veto any version of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and by extension the Protect IP Act (PIPA), that included domain name blocking. The White House statement said that any proposal had to be narrowly focused on clearly criminal activity and "must not tamper" with the DNS system that translates web domains to IP addresses. Officials wanted "sound legisltation," but saw a bill like SOPA as compromising Internet security efforts like DNSSEC without solving the real problem.
"Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation [like SOPA and PIPA] suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online," the administration said. "We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk."
The governors instead argued that the public should be offering suggestions as to how to combat piracy, not just how to stop bills that might go too far. Any measure put forward had to embody stereotypically American values of "free expression, privacy, security and innovation."
An Obama White House response comes somewhat late and possibly as a reactionary move, as both SOPA and PIPA backers had volunteered to drop DNS blocking in order to get the measures passed. However, it also takes the steps off the table for any future bill as potentially leading to censorship and compromising US security. Advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have suggested that the two bills as a whole shouldn't be passed given the lack of oversight.
Either bill was introduced quietly and is generally though to have come at the requests of labels and studios themselves that wanted piracy stopped at all costs. Early hearings on SOPA glossed over security and civil liberty issues, and many of those at the hearing had either only heard of DNSSEC for the first time at the gathering or admitted that they knew little of how it would work.