The Obama administration won't back legislation to
combat online piracy if it encourages censorship,
undermines cybersecurity or disrupts the structure of
the Internet, three White House technology officials
Right now, Congress is debating a few pieces of
legislation concerning the very real issue of online
piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA),
the PROTECT IP Act and the Online Protection and
Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN).
The White House said that it would work with Congress
on legislation to help battle piracy and
counterfeiting while defending free expression,
privacy, security and innovation in the Internet.
"Any effective legislation should reflect a wide range
of stakeholders, including everyone from content
creators to the engineers that build and maintain the
infrastructure of the Internet," the White House
officials said in a blog post.
"While we believe that online piracy by foreign
websites is a serious problem that requires a serious
legislative response, we will not support legislation
that reduces freedom of expression, increases
cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic,
innovative global Internet," the the White House
The offcials said that any effort to combat online
piracy must guard against the risk of online
censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit
innovation by dynamic businesses large and small.
"Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is
increasingly central to innovation in business,
government, and society and it must be protected. 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
The offcials also resposnded to the DNS filtering
provisions proposed by SOPA, which were recently removed
by the proposed legislation.
"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."
The White House underlined that online piracy is a
real problem that harms the American economy, and
threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class
workers and hurts some of our nation's most creative
and innovative companies and entrepreneurs.
"It harms everyone from struggling artists to
production crews, and from startup social media
companies to large movie studios. While we are
strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of
intellectual property rights, existing tools are not
strong enough to root out the worst online pirates
beyond our borders. That is why the Administration
calls on all sides to work together to pass sound
legislation this year that provides prosecutors and
rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy
originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to
the principles outlined above in this response."
Tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and
others have questioned the legislation, warning in a
Nov. 15 letter that it would force new liabilities and
mandates on law-abiding technology companies and
require them to monitor websites.