There are a few bills going through Congress right now and I encourage you to write you congress-critter to voice your opposition. They are:

  • H.R.3261 – Stop Online Piracy Act
  • S.968 – Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011
  • H.R.1981 – Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011

The SOPA and PROTECT-IP bills are very similar. Both would force your ISP to filter your Internet traffic and not allow you to go to “bad” sites. The problem is, if a site is even accused of hosting illegal music files, your ISP must prevent you from going to the site. No guilt of violation is required. In addition, the mechanism used to enforce this literally breaks the Internet and leaves you open to attack from viruses, malware, and outside attackers since you are no longer allowed to use DNS-SEC for protection. Nice. I sent similar letters to both NJ senators and to my NJ House rep, but this is the version for Bob Menendez, my NJ senator actually co-sponsoring the bill:

I am writing to you regarding your sponsorship of S.968 “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011.” This is a horrible bill and I would like to see you withdraw your sponsorship of it.

On your own web page, from which I am sending this letter, you have links for me to become your Facebook friend, for me to watch your speeches and opinions on Youtube, and a Twitter feed so I may keep up with you. Each one of those three companies has come out very publicly against this bill. In fact, with the bill’s “assume guilty, take down site, then call lawyer” mantra, there is a very real chance that one of your endorsed sites will go offline for something that another person does. There is no safe-harbor provision as with the DMCA.

More troubling is the fact this will break the new Internet-protection mechanism called “DNS-SEC.” DNS interception and poisoning is a very real Internet attack, basically, the attackers give your machine their IP address instead of the real IP address during a DNS look up. Malware, viruses, and compromised upstream computers use DNS attacks to fool your computer into going to the wrong place. Your computer may think it is speaking with, but is is really talking to the attacker’s machine. This works because your machine will not know the difference. The attacker can forward all of your traffic to the real Facebook while keeping a copy for themselves. Imagine if they did this using a bank … or any .mil site. DNS-SEC is currently being rolled out on the Internet to prevent this attack. It would encrypt the traffic so that only the root servers or trusted servers could respond to the DNS look up query. But PROTECT-IP requires all upstream providers to filter DNS, ergo intercept and read it. So, you cannot use DNS-SEC to protect yourself.

Please, withdraw your support for this bill. It goes too far.

Though I didn’t point it out, the bill would also make unlicensed incidental background music illegal in an online video. So, if there is a radio playing when you upload video from a party, you would be guilty of a crime. For someone like Justin Bieber, the latest singing sensation who was discovered because he sang a song on Youtube, he would be guilty of violating the law, fined, and perhaps thrown in prison for 5 years — see

The other bill is ostensibly said to protect children from predators. It would require your ISP to record most of your Internet traffic just in case. Sounds kinda big brother to me. Please, as a side effect, it will kill free Internet in coffee shops and parks. If you were a small coffee shop, you’d have to start checking the IDs of your customers, write down their information, match their web surfing to their machine, and log all of this data for a period of time. Would a Ma & Pa coffee shop do that? Imagine a park ranger in a city park walking over to people to check IDs. Won’t happen, so they’ll simply kill the free Internet. My letter to Albio Sires of NJ-13.

I wrote to you a few months ago about H.R. 1981, ‘the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011′ and my thoughts about how the bill goes too far and will accomplish nothing. I’ve thought further and discovered another unintended consequence of the bill: it will kill free Internet access.

While on a vacation, I enjoyed free Internet at many small, family owned coffee shops in MA, NYC, and NJ. If this bill becomes law, those small businesses would need to start tracking all of the people who use their wireless connections. They’d have to check IDs, write down the information, record all traffic as mandated by law, ensure they’re not mixing each patrons’ data, and log it for some time. Or, they’d need to subscribe to some service that performs these checks at added cost. For a small business, would this be worth it?

Starbucks and McDonalds also offer free Internet today and may be able automate the ID checks to some degree. These big stores could have the user enter a valid credit card number to match to a name and allow the user to continue – they need not bill the person, only use the credit card as an ID card.

What happens if my credit card is stolen and used at Starbucks for ‘bad?’ What happens if a waiter at another place simply writes down my credit card number and only uses it to perform this ‘authorization check’ at Starbucks? To be absolutely certain, the big stores still need to manually validate IDs – which takes the time away from an employee. Do they now need ‘bouncers’ for Internet checks? It might be easier for them to simply discontinue Internet or to begin charging for it.

If a small shop did not do these tasks and one of their patrons went to an illegal site, would the owner of the store now be accused of viewing child pornography? Eventually, the charges would probably get dropped, but only have the owner was arrested, called a pervert in the media, sold the shop, and burned through their savings to pay for a lawyer.

Or, they just might stop offering free Internet. If this bill comes to a vote, please say no.

I encourage everyone to stand up for your rights and to prevent big brother from getting closer to reality.