EFF needs your help to stop the Senate's DNS censorship bill

Peter Eckersley pde at eff.org
Tue Sep 28 02:13:28 UTC 2010

As you may or may not have heard, there is a censor-DNS-to-enforce-copyright
bill that is going to be passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee this
Wednesday (!!!).  It will require service providers to censor the DNS entries of
blacklisted domains where piracy is deemed too "central" to the site's purpose.
Senators are claiming that they haven't heard any opposition to this bill, and
it is being sponsored by 14 of the 19 committee members.  We believe it needs
to be stopped, and we need your help.

What EFF needs right now is sign-ons to an open letter, from the engineers who
helped build the Internet in the first place.  The text of our letter is
below.  If you agree with it and would like to sign, please send me an email
at pde at eff.org, with your name and a one-line summary of what part of the
Internet you have helped to design, implement, debug or run.

This is URGENT.  I need your sign-ons by 4:00pm, US Eastern time (1pm
Pacific), tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the civil liberties community has been
ambushed by this bill.

You can find out more details on the bill here: https://eff.org/coica


Open letter from Internet engineers to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called
the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and
protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We're
just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the
Internet, has brought with it.

We are writing to oppose the Committee's proposed new Internet censorship and
copyright bill. If enacted, this legislation will risk fragmenting the
Internet's global domain name system (DNS), create an environment of
tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously
harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key
Internet infrastructure. In exchange for this, the bill will introduce
censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers
while hampering innocent parties' ability to communicate.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to
restrict, but this bill will be particularly egregious in that regard because
it causes entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or
files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be
blacklisted under this bill. These problems will be enough to ensure that
alternative name-lookup infrastructures will come into widespread use, outside
the control of US service providers but easily used by American citizens.
Errors and divergences will appear between these new services and the current
global DNS, and contradictory addresses will confuse browsers and frustrate
the people using them. These problems will be widespread and will affect sites
other than those blacklisted by the American government.

The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open
Internet, both domestically and abroad. We can't have a free and open Internet
without a global domain name system that sits above the political concerns and
objectives of any one government or industry. To date, the leading role the US
has played in this infrastructure has been fairly uncontroversial because
America is seen as a trustworthy arbiter and a neutral bastion of free
expression. If the US suddenly begins to use its central position in the DNS
for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the
consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.

Senators, we believe the Internet is too important and too valuable to be
endangered in this way, and implore you to put this bill aside.

Peter Eckersley                            pde at eff.org
Senior Staff Technologist         Tel  +1 415 436 9333 x131
Electronic Frontier Foundation    Fax  +1 415 436 9993

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