On November 16, 2011, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Ron Wyden asked that he be permitted to include a statement opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act. The full statement is published as a press release at Senator Wyden's web site. It is a thoughtful and carefully constructed expression of concern regarding SOPA and PIPA.
In his closing statements, Senator Wyden asks that members of Congress respect the following principles:
"1. Be deliberate. While rights holders and law enforcement are understandably eager to go after bad actors, we must be mindful of the precedents we set here at home, and around the world.
"2. Get the scope right. Narrowly focus law enforcement’s authority on those who are willfully and deliberately breaking the law or infringing on others’ property rights for commercial gain.
"3. Avoid collateral damage. Rather than frustrating the architecture of the Internet or establishing a censoring regime, consider instead promoting approaches that empower users and do no harm to the ‘Net. More simply, fish for tuna without catching dolphins.
"4. Promote innovation over litigation. Our efforts should be to protect copyrights and trademarks, not outdated business models."
These principles align very closely with an Advisory my SSAC colleagues and I prepared entitled DNS Blocking: Benefits Versus Harms. In our Advisory, we explain circumstances and care exercised where DNS blocking is used today and recommend these as principles to guide any blocking actions. Reworded slightly from the Advisory, the principles Congress should consider follow:
Only imposelegislation on a network and users over which you exercise control.
Determine that the legislation serves the objectives and/or the interests of your citizens.
Implement the legislation using a technique that is least disruptive to network operations and users.
Make a concerted effort to do no harm to networks or users outside your legislative domain.
The similarites are striking. It's both comforting and disturbing that there is one Congressman who appreciates the gravity of the issues and the consequences of hasty, poorly constructed legislation. If you are a US citizen, contact your congressmen and encourage them to read Senator Wyden's thoughtful statement opposing SOPA.