The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was set to pass a house committee today by a wide margin, but the vote has unexpectedly been delayed. This follows a lengthy 11-hour debate on Thursday that left the bill essentially unchanged. That’s dismaying for experts who worry SOPA’s mandated alteration of the DNS system could be dangerous.
SOPA would force ISPs to block sites suspected of containing content that infringes copyright. Experts on network management and internet infrastructure have repeatedly expressed concern over the measure, but the entertainment lobby is pushing hard for its passage. Sites targeted by the law would have virtually no ability to fight the seizure of their domain names. SOPA (and the companion Senate legislation Protect IP) also ends safe harbor provisions that protect websites from being held liable for content uploaded by users.
There was no date set for a new vote on SOPA today, but with the overwhelming support the measure is getting, we expect it will be back. There have been calls from some members to have experts on internet infrastructure testify on the matter, so it’s possible the delay will provide that opportunity.