DOMAIN REGISTRAR BACKPEDALS ON INTERNET ACT
Public pressure gives GoDaddy pause for thought
Mounting public pressure against a US act that could be misused to censor the internet has prompted domain registrar GoDaddy to reconsider its position in supporting the measure.
The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is at the centre of the controversy, a bill ostensibly intended to aid the fight against intellectual property and copyright abuse, but which includes enforcement permissions that could be misused to censor internet content such as prohibiting online advertising networks, payment facilitators and search engines from doing business with black listed websites, and requiring domain registrars to block access or cooperate in seizures of certain websites and domains.
The draconian provisions of the measure have caused an outcry and calls for a boycott of GoDaddy, a major domain registrar that initially indicated its support for the act, amid concerns about freedom-of-speech and internet censorship issues.
There is some justification in the online gambling industry in particular for concern, bearing in mind GoDaddy's cooperation in the highly questionable Kentucky domain seizures, and the enforcement agencies' historically diverse manipulation of legalization like the Wire Act in threatening and prosecuting companies associated with internet gambling and individuals.
The industry is not alone in its condemnation of the act as it presently stands; numerous other industries with an interest in retaining a free internet have voiced opposition to SOPA, and action groups have been mobilising for action against internet companies that support the measure.
Influential organisations like the Wikipedia Foundation have been outspoken in opposition, characterising SOPA as an assault on a free and open internet.
Just before the Christmas break, GoDaddy chief executive Warren Adelman indicated the company’s change of heart by issuing a statement which included the passage: "It's clear to us the bill's not ready in its current form. Looking at this over the last 20 hours, we're not seeing consensus in the Internet community, we're hearing the feedback from our customers."
With the furore mounting in intensity, politicians on the House Judiciary Committee will certainly have to tread carefully when consideration of the current draft is resumed after the holiday break.