Although news reports today indicate that many Representatives and Senators who previously supported SOPA and PIPA have withdrawn their support and, in some cases, now actively oppose the bills, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not among them. Despite a request by six senators from both sides of the aisle, Reid says he will not postpone taking up PIPA. Can’t fault Harry for consistency. He helped railroad the PPACA through Congress in the face of massive public opposition.
There is no word at this writing whether SOPA will be considered in the House without delay.
For more on these ostensibly anti-Internet piracy bills see the Brookings Institution what paper on the subject at this link.
Cybersecurity has dominated headlines and the attention of American policymakers. The challenge is not in recognizing the problem, but in understanding how to balance cybersecurity efforts with other policy priorities and scarce resources. Two new bills designed to combat foreign websites that infringe on American intellectual property present one of the first such decisions to Congress: how can we balance the defense of cyberspace and defense against online piracy when the two conflict?
The Senate bill S.968, or the PROTECT IP Act, and the House bill H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, have raised a great deal of controversy. This paper does not deal with the questions of economic value, free expression or other issues raised by advocates on both sides. Instead, I highlight the very real threats to cybersecurity in a small section of both bills in their attempts to execute policy through the Internet architecture. While these bills will not “break the Internet,” they further burden cyberspace with three new risks. First, the added complexity makes the goals of stability and security more difficult. Second, the expected reaction of Internet users will lead to demonstrably less secure behavior, exposing many American Internet users, their computers and even their employers to known risks. Finally, and most importantly, these bills will set back other efforts to secure cyberspace, both domestically and internationally. As such, policymakers are encouraged to analyze the net benefits of these bills in light of the increased cybersecurity risks.