Former MPAA CTO Tells The White House Why SOPA Is The Wrong Approach For IP Enforcement
from the you're-free-to-speak-now,-paul dept
You may recall who Paul Brigner is. He was formerly the Chief Technology Policy Officer for the MPAA, who at one point was tasked with standing up to pretty much every knowledgeable internet engineer in trying to defend why SOPA was both necessary and wouldn’t be a technological disaster. This resulted in some wacky arguments. Back in January, he and I faced off on a panel in Washington DC the day before the Internet blackout, in which he tried to defend the MPAA’s position on SOPA, though almost everyone who watched the panel noted that his statements appeared half hearted. It was little surprise two months later to see Brigner leave the MPAA to go work for the Internet Society, who fought strongly against SOPA. Since then, Brigner has more or less admitted that SOPA was a bad idea.
So it’s not too surprising, but still a bit ironic, to see that Brigner has written the Internet Society’s response to the White House’s request for comment on IP Enforcement, and much of it explains why any approach that mirrors SOPA is completely unacceptable. From all indications, this has been Brigner’s true belief all along, and you can see it in the depth of explanation and knowledge he puts into this letter as compared to his half-hearted “defenses” of the MPAA when he was employed there. What’s striking, however, is how directly Brigner’s comments today contradict the claims of the MPAA, which he was responsible for defending just a few months ago. It’s almost a step by step argument against the MPAA’s position: Brigner/ISOC are against mucking with DNS, are in favor of highlighting the importance of due process and protecting civil liberties and in favor of much greater transparency in policy making.
We are also of the opinion that any enforcement attempts – at both national and international levels – should ensure and not jeopardize the stability, interoperability and efficiency of the Internet, its technologies and underlying platforms. The Internet – a network of networks – is based on an open and distributed architecture. This model should be preserved and should surpass any enforcement efforts. For the Internet Society preserving the original nature of the Internet is particularly significant, especially when enforcement is targeting domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS) in general. There are significant concerns from using the DNS as a channel for intellectual property enforcement and various contributions have been made on this issue by both the Internet Society and the technical community. It needs to be highlighted that from a security perspective, in particular, DNS filtering is incompatible with an important security technology called Domain Name Security Extensions or DNSSEC. In fact, there is great potential for DNSSEC to be weakened by proposals that seek to filter domain names. This means that DNS filtering proposals could ultimately reduce global Internet security, introduce new vulnerabilities, and put individual users at risk.
Our second recommendation relates to the legal tools that should be in place in any enforcement design. ISOC would like to stress the absolute need for any enforcement provisions to be prescribed according to the rule of law and due process. We believe that combating online infringement of intellectual property is a significant objective. However, it is equally important that this objective is achieved through lawful and legal paths and in accordance with the notion of constitutional proportionality. In this regard, enforcement provisions – both within and outside the context of intellectual property – should respect the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of individuals and, subsequently, those of Internet users. They should not seek to impose unbearable constitutional constraints and should not prohibit users from exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of association and freedom of expression.
As a general recommendation, we would like to emphasize our belief that all discussions pertaining to the Internet, including those relating to intellectual property – both at a national and international level – should follow open and transparent processes.
It’s a great filing overall, and I appreciate the Internet Society’s longstanding support for these key principles. Similarly, I think it’s great that Brigner appears to have found employment much more in line with his own knowledge, experience and personal views — but there is something ironic about seeing his name on a filing like this just months after he was tasked with arguing the opposite position.
Speaking of the White House’s request for comments, that process is still open until this Friday. Later this week, I’ll be sharing what I am submitting as well, but I urge many others to post thoughtful comments of their own. You can see what’s already been submitted, and unfortunately, it appears that many (on all sides of the issue) submitted short/ranty “internet comment” style comments. I would urge that anyone seeking to submit a comment write out something a bit more thoughtful and detailed if you would like those in the White House to take them seriously.