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Obama Administration Urges Removal of DNS Provisions in Federal Online Piracy Legislation

In a somewhat surprising response to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) announcement on Jan. 13, 2012, that he was going to remove the DNS provisions from the SOPA bill (H.R. 3261) (see: http://www.educause.edu/blog/gvhaledjian/HouseJudiciaryCommitteeChairma/244754), and in response to two petitions opposing the bill, the Obama Administration released a statement on Jan. 14, that said, “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. 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.”

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/13/obama-administration-responds-we-people-petitions-sopa-and-online-piracy

In addition, on Jan. 12, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that he is considering whether to change the DNS provision on in the Senate version of SOPA, the Protect IP Act (S. 968).  Finally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he would move forward with a full Senate vote on PIPA the week of Jan. 23 though he acknowledged that the bill is controversial.  In remarks made on Meet the Press, Reid said, "We need to work on this and we're going to—I will hope we can have a manager's amendment when we get back here in a week or 10 days and move forward on this."

These are promising developments regarding this legislation, but we still have concerns regarding the non-DNS provisions in the bills.  We are engaged in an advocacy role and we will keep our members updated.