Syrian Electronic Army 'Hack' Of The NYTimes Was The Exact Remedy MPAA Demanded With SOPA
from the and-it-was-a-joke dept
As you may have heard, this week the Syrian Electronic Army was effectively able to "take down" nytimes.com by engaging in a bit of DNS hacking, which was really nothing more than a DNS redirect. As Rob Pegoraro points out, this is the same basic remedy that the MPAA wanted so badly with SOPA. In fact, during the negotiations over SOPA (after it became clear that its companion bill in the Senate, PIPA, was stalled over the DNS blocking issue), this was the issue the MPAA refused to budge over: DNS blocking/redirects needed to be in SOPA. As Pegoraro writes, if SOPA had become law, we likely would have seen the law abused to take down sites just as the Syrian Electronic Army took down nytimes.com:
2011's Stop Online Piracy Act would have let copyright holders require Internet providers to use DNS redirection to block access to allegedly infringing sites. That authority would inevitably have been abused in social-engineering exploits--and we'd likely see a lot more outages like the NYT's.At the same time, Ali Sternburg, over at the Disruptive Competition Project points out that this also shows just how laughably ineffective DNS blocking/redirecting would have been in SOPA (despite the MPAA's insistence that it was necessary), because it's so easy to get around and many, many people did. It may have been an inconvenience, but it was hardly the game changer the MPAA predicted.
If this sounds familiar to you, perhaps it’s because Domain Name System (DNS) blocking was part of the original draft of SOPA. DNS blocking was suggested as a remedy to take entire allegedly infringing foreign websites down, but yesterday demonstrated that people can still navigate to sites through their IP address, even when domain name servers are offline. This is consistent with a major critique of the DNS blocking during the SOPA debate: that it wouldn’t even work. Some SOPA supporters had argued in response that “it would be a mistake to assume, as some of these network engineers have, that the average Internet user has the above-average technical skills necessary to do this.” But yet, people did yesterday.* If people want to access a website, they can figure it out pretty fast, and without needing any significant technological skills.So it's somewhat ineffective for blocking (though, very effective for drawing much more attention to what you want blocked). It was a dumb idea by the technologically illiterate folks at the MPAA to suggest a form of DNS hacking as any kind of remedy to copyright infringement, and the NY Times redirect hack just made that even clearer.