During the past few days the Internet has seen intense debate on two legislative initiatives proposed before the United States Congress which, if passed, would have had a global negative impact on the Internet. These initiatives are known by the acronyms of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act).
Widespread opposition on the part of the Internet ecosystem at global level has determined that, for the time being, these initiatives were not proposed; however, it is likely that similar initiatives under different names will continue to be promoted within the United States Congress.
LACNIC’s Board of Directors issued a statement making the position of its members and community clear. This statement expresses deep concern for the potential consequences that could arise if these acts were to be passed.
The main concern lies in the fact that, with the intention of protecting intellectual property rights, these initiatives would enable unilaterally blocking or filtering the Domain Name System (DNS). LACNIC’s Executive Director, Raúl Echeberría, noted that “it is natural to try to fight against illegal actions; however, the collateral impact of this type of initiatives goes well beyond the crime they seek to end and, in addition, it is global and affects both companies through increased operating costs as well as users’ freedom of expression”. In Raúl Echeberría’s opinion, the potential penalties anticipated in these acts are disproportionate in relation to the aim pursued.
Both initiatives eliminate due process guarantees, as the sole presumption of a crime would activatre the filtering and blocking mechanisms that will become available once this legislation is approved. SOPA forces the blocking of any web page under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for copyright infringement, regardless of where the domain is actually located. Oscar Messano, Chairman of LACNIC’s Board of Directors, also commented that “Attempts are being made to apply technical solutions to a problem that is not technical but legal and political and, in doing so, the global Internet ecosystem is being affected”.
To conclude, LACNIC once again expresses its commitment to the continued development and stability of the Internet, cooperating and articulating with all stakeholders, in the hope that its enormous benefits will reach our entire community.