Obama spikes anti-piracy SOPA over DNSSEC

Obama Administration will veto the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act as the bill could undermine the internet's security

The Obama Administration on Saturday announced it will veto the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act due to the threat the bill posed to the security of the internet's architecture.

One of the primary concerns was that the bill, currently being debated in Congress, would require tampering with the Domain Name System in a way that could undermine the internet's security.

"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," explained Obama advisor and the administration's cyber security coordinator, Howard Schmidt, alongside federal chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra, and federal intellectual property enforcement coordinator, Victoria Espinel.

"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."

Critics of SOPA and its accompanying act, Protect IP, have pointed out that the bills would undermine current DNSSEC efforts to improve authentication on the web and combat impostors behind 'man in the middle' attacks (PDF).

The bill would have allowed the Department of Justice and rights holders to demand ISPs and search engines filter out offending domains by redirecting a user who attempts to reach an offending IP address to a government warning page.

The decision to veto the bill followed fierce debate in the US last year between Silicon Valley pundits and Hollywood, spanning freedom of expression, security, and innovation.

The officials urged web platforms and rights holders to adopt "voluntary measures and best practices" to combat online piracy, noting that legislation was not the only way to achieve this.

Last December, the proposal appeared to be on its way to becoming legislation after the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee rejected amendments that would have significantly pared back its reach.

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