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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stakeholders warn against SOPA


This may not be an exciting moments for the global internet stakeholders as they battle against the United States-led agenda on Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

They warned that this may stifle internet innovation and create a lot of bottlenecks.

The leading voice against Stop Online Piracy Act, law professor, Stewart Baker, who stated in an open letter to the House and Senate of the United States tagged ‘Protect Internet Protocol (IP) Act, that the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act would broadly affect the Internet adaptability through reduction of online innovation and expression by creating major new litigation risks for service providers currently protected by the DMCA safe harbor.

Section 102 of the proposed Act, he cited for instance, allows the government to impose new obligations on a range of intermediaries to block access to sites that facilitate criminal copyright or trademark infringement.

This section, he noted, defines new actions that may be brought by the U.S. Attorney General against a “foreign infringing site” or portion thereof.

“The court can then issue injunctions against the site to cease and desist further activity as a foreign infringing site,” he said.

According to him, once an order has issued against a site, the Attorney General could serve a copy, with court approval, on any of several intermediaries, who must take action specified in the bill within five (5) days or as ordered.

The foregoing, he said, would entail that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other online service providers that operate caching Domain Name System (DNS) servers must take measures designed to “prevent access” to the site or portion thereof, including measures designed to prevent DNS resolution of the sites domain name.

He also said that search engines must take measures designed to prevent the site or portion from being served as links in search results.

Equally, he said, that payment networks must make certain their networks are designed to prevent, prohibit or suspend transactions between the site and US customers.

He further cited an instance with the advertisement networks, saying that they must take measures designed to stop serving ads on the site, stop serving ads for the site including sponsored links and cease all compensation to or from the site.

Subsequently, the Attorney General, he said, could bring actions against these intermediaries to compel compliance, and seek injunctions against anyone who provides tools to circumvent the orders.

He insisted that SOPA would impose new responsibilities on ISPs to scrutinize and screen all user traffic.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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