A word about SOPA

The tech media is abuzz with news of a project called “SOPA”, and so I learned that the people of the United States of America, represented by their senators and representatives, are considering new legislation aimed at combatting digital piracy. It is not my position to criticize the decisions of the sovereign people of the USA over their domestic affairs. However, I urge the people of the USA and their representatives to seriously consider the impact of the proposed legislation over their international commitments before taking their decision.

For one, while filtering DNS entries for ISPs in the USA might seem it would only have a local impact, it would in fact seriously undermine the very infrastructure of the Internet, which is recognized to be a global infrastructure not belonging to any nation in particular.

Then, the broad and not too strict criteria for classifying a site in the proposed legislation mean rights holders in the USA would be given powers of enforcement much greater than they had in the past. Moreover, some rights holders have used existing tools in the past, such as DMCA takedowns, to target and block sites that were not engaged in intellectual property infringing activities, but rather in activities like parody, which is protected by free speech. Finally, adding to this the lack of any due process means that innovative sites from outside the USA would be exposed to a lot of risk of being blocked from a complaint by a competitor based in the USA, or being unable to collect money from USA citizens, with little recourse if this were to happen, which could be considered an impediment to free trade by the WTO.

People of the USA, I thank you for your attention and wish to send you my most friendly salutations.