White House Comes Out Against The Approach In SOPA/PIPA In Response To Online Petition
from the boom dept
Remember that big first petition to the White House against SOPA? As you may recall, that got enough signatures that it required a response from the White House… and that response has come out. It rejects the approaches found in both SOPA and PIPA. They say that “online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response” but that there are many things they will not support.
They will not support a bill that has the potential to censor lawful activity or inhibit innovation:
To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity. Any provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks, payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing.
They flat out reject anything that involves DNS blocking:
We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. 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.
They do still say that new legislation is needed, but they want something where every stakeholder is actually involved:
So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what’s right. Already, many of members of Congress are asking for public input around the issue. We are paying close attention to those opportunities, as well as to public input to the Administration. The organizer of this petition and a random sample of the signers will be invited to a conference call to discuss this issue further with Administration officials and soon after that, we will host an online event to get more input and answer your questions. Details on that will follow in the coming days.
Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue websites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders. We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge.
Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation. Again, thank you for taking the time to participate in this important process. We hope you’ll continue to be part of it.
Make no mistake about this: this is the White House asking for a hard reset of SOPA/PIPA and saying start again from scratch. This is an astounding turn of events, and a much stronger statement from the White House than anyone honestly expected. This is almost entirely because of the outcry that came out of the internet over the last few months. Without that, it is unlikely that the White House ever would have come out with such a strong position that questions the key provisions of these bills.
It will be important to continue to be engaged and to make sure that what happens next really is reasonable. Let’s hope that Congress actually recognizes the importance of what the White House is saying, and that any future process really is open. Congress has a way of ignoring things like this, and until Harry Reid agrees to put PIPA on the shelf and take part in this hard reset, people need to keep the pressure on the Senate. But, in the short term, this is a rather historic moment, in that it is a case where a loud public outcry really has had a major impact on this process. When the Senate introduced PIPA early last year, it was seen as almost assured that it would pass in something close to its initial form. Now that seems impossible.