With blackout curtains shrouding the internet this morning, it’s hard not to think about what the web might look like if SOPA and PIPA passed. One company who isn’t sweating it? The Pirate Bay—yup, that’s right, the very site these laws were proposed to censor.
A Pirate Bay source told TorrentFreak that the company is concerned, but not about being shut down, “Of course we’re worried. Not so much for The Pirate Bay, as there are many workarounds, but for democratic reasons.” Indeed, via backup domains, alternative DNS-servers or proxy sites, both SOPA and PIPA can be circumvented, particularly since its advertising partners aren’t subject to U.S. laws.
Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures and Alexis Ohanian of Reddit, Breadpig, Hipmunk and Google+ are headed to Washington to testify as witnesses for an “Oversight Hearing on DNS and Search Engine Blocking” on Jan. 18 called by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a fierce opponent of the Stop Online Piracy Act and a cosponsor of the similar but completely different Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act. Of SOPA, he’s said: “Butchering the internet is not a way forward for America.”
SOPA allows for Hollywood, record labels and other intellectual property holders to cut off U.S. users’ access to the servers hosting the bad content. That happens by basically removing the DNS entry for the infringing site. The law also applies to sites that link to infringing sites, which would give search engines a primary spot on the collateral damage list.
Opponents have pinpointed DNS and search engine blocking as failure points of the legislation. We know SOPA is bad because it counteracts the protection from user-submitted content made sacred by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, a law whose protections are credited for much of the innovation on the web. But DNS—the protocol and registry that translates natural language domain names into IP addresses—is a little more technical, so Betabeat asked New York tech godfather Anil Dash who helped Betabeat out with an explanation.
Hacked Or Not?
One of the most interesting companies in New York these days is bit.ly. The service seems simple at first: it a makes long URLs into shorter ones. But in doing that at scale, bit.ly channels massive amounts of data about what users are creating, reading and sharing.
Today the company announced a partnership with Verisign, which, per the release we saw, “operates two of the Internet’s root nameservers and much of the web’s DNS infrastructure. If there’s a single company that qualifies as the steward of the internet, it’s Verisign.”
Data scientists from both companies will work together to answer the sort of metaphysical puzzlers that were once the reserved for astrophysicists. “Scientists at both companies are already poring over volumes of DNS resolution data–data that will help us answer fundamental (and fundamentally awesome) questions like: “what actually are the most popular websites on the internet?” and “just how big is the internet, anyhow?”
Via New Work City-based CTO Mike Caprio, the DNS records for Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Microsoft are looking a little funky–have they been hacked by pesky spammers, or perhaps Anonymous?
A whois lookup of Apple.com pulls the following spammy-looking result: