ITIF Comments on PIPA/SOPA Developments

January 16, 2012

Amid recent moves by House and Senate leaders and White House statements on DNS filtering provisions in legislation before Congress aimed at cracking down on online piracy, ITIF issued the following statement:

"While we appreciate the desire of Sen. Leahy and Rep. Smith to proceed cautiously, the removal of the DNS filtering provision from Protect IP and SOPA will not satisfy the vast majority of critics who oppose these bills on the basis of mistaken beliefs. Internet crime is a problem that's been with us for a long time, and every measure that has dealt with it has evoked a chorus of criticism, both legitimate and otherwise.

Many of the interests who now tout DMCA as a model of propriety previously blasted it in the same terms they're using against Protect IP and SOPA. Similarly, many of the critics who tout the benefits of Secure DNS have not yet implemented it because of the many barriers that stand in the way of its successful operation on today's Internet. With or without Protect IP and SOPA, Secure DNS is little more than a "paper tiger" at present, albeit a very desirable one. 

We remain confident that the technical measures proposed by Protect IP and SOPA do not threaten cybersecurity, and we believe that careful analysis will show this. In fact, the most credible technical critic of these bills, Paul Vixie, admitted as much last March when he wrote the following on the ISC website: 

"We need informed debate on the question of mandated 'DNS blocking' but we should be true to the facts and the details. Secure DNS and 'DNS blocking' are ships in the night at the moment and whenever the goal of 'DNS blocking' is merely domain name disappearance and not content insertion then 'DNS blocking' will not break Secure DNS or even slow it down."

'Informed debate' on the lack of interaction between DNS filtering and Secure DNS has been one of the casualties of the political debate over Protect IP and SOPA; even Vixie has backtracked from his truthful declaration of last March to fall in line with less credible technologists. Objections to DNS filtering depend on contrived scenarios and dubious assumptions about user behavior that can only be clarified through dispassionate and well-informed discussion that is all but impossible in the current climate of hysteria.


It's wise to proceed down the path of Internet crime reduction step-by-step in order to ensure that enforcement measures are well-focused, effective, and respectful of due process and civil rights. As we move forward, it's vitally important to reach a clear understanding of DNS filtering and other technical enforcement measures untainted by disingenuous criticism. We believe that it's possible to make constructive changes to Internet behavioral norms without threatening cybersecurity, and we applaud Sen. Leahy and Rep. Smith for requesting an impartial analysis that will clearly establish the technical facts."



The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank at the cutting edge of designing innovation strategies and technology policies to create economic opportunities and improve quality of life in the United States and around the world. Founded in 2006, ITIF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-partisan organization that documents the beneficial role technology plays in our lives and provides fact-based analysis and pragmatic ideas for improving technology-driven productivity, boosting competitiveness, and meeting today's global challenges through innovation. For additional information, visit ITIF at or contact Steve Norton at (202) 626-5758 or [email protected].