sMeanwhile, several signs point to SOPA legislation hitting some serious speedbumps. On Saturday, a statement issued by White House cyberczar Howard Schmidt, and other administration technology officials, threw cold water on SOPA’s anti-piracy efforts.
“Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online,” says the response, referring to SOPA’s proposal to allow law enforcement officials to blacklist Web sites — cut them off from U.S. users — that allegedly encourage piracy. The response,posted at WhiteHouse.gov on Saturday, does not take a position on SOPA, but it cautioned lawmakers that the administration will opposed anti-piracy efforts that might increased censorship.
“Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small,” the memo reads.
In Congress, supporters of the legislation have recently indicated they are open to changing their proposals.
Late Friday afternoon, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), said he planned tone down enforcement powers that would be granted by the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). A new version would not include the most controversial provision, which would have enabled federal authorities to “blacklist” domains that were alleged to be involved in distribution of pirated content, effectively cutting portions of the Web off from all U.S. users.
“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,” Smith, one of SOPA’s chief backers, said in a statement. “We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers.”
The move comes after a similar step taken on Thursday by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), sponsor of the Senate version, PIPA. Leahy said complaints from “human rights groups, engineers, and others” had convinced him to change his thinking on the bill.