January 14, 2012The proposed U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been watered down a little after protests that it would “break” security features of the Internet.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith announced yesterday he would strike a provision from SOPA that would compel Internet Service Providers to block access to foreign websites allegedly dealing in counterfeit goods and/or accused of other forms of intellectual property infringements. However, the permanent removal of the blocking provision isn’t set in stone.

Chairman Smith commented, “After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision. We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers.

According to some in the domain name and connectivity sectors – including Affilias, registry operator of the .info Top Level Domain (TLD) – SOPA could undermine security improvements made with the introduction of DNSSEC, which makes the Domain Name System (DNS) more stable and trustworthy.

While SOPA has been supported by more than 120 businesses and associations from around the USA, resistance to it is also significant.  A well known registrar of domain names that previously supported the legislation was pressured to reverse its position after grass roots action by protesting customers saw the company lose tens of thousands of domains names under management by the service.

Among the other reasons for opposition to the bill: those concerned feel there will be a general negative impact to online business, a lack of transparency in enforcement, it will be ineffective against online piracy, that it poses a threat to online freedom of speech and weakens “safe harbor” protections for site hosting content published by members, customers and users.