The “Stop Online Piracy Act” would target foreign websites for take down. I wondered what this actually meant, from a technical perspective, so I gave the proposed legislation a very quick look.
It turns out that the government wants to force U.S. Internet service providers to block access to the sites. There would be a ban list that the ISPs would have to enforce. The ISPs would also have to modify their DNS records to prevent the foreign sites from resolving:
A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name’s Internet Protocol address. Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.
This is, in effect, what China, Iran, North Korea, etc. do with their national firewalls. The difference with the U.S. version is that they would force individual ISPs to carry out the bans, rather than implementing them in a centralized way.
If you think that this is just about fake Gucci purses, just wait…
US lawmakers introduced a bill on Wednesday that would give US authorities more tools to crack down on websites accused of piracy of movies, television shows and music and the sale of counterfeit goods.
The Stop Online Piracy Act has received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is the House version of a bill introduced in the Senate in May known as the Theft of Intellectual Property Act or Protect IP Act.
The legislation has received the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the Business Software Alliance, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups.
But it has come under fire from digital rights and free speech organizations for allegedly paving the way for US law enforcement to unilaterally shut down websites, including foreign sites, without due process.