White House encourages battle against online piracy, but vows to protect innovation

News by Dan Raywood

Protecting intellectual property online must not threaten an open and innovative internet, according to the White House.

Protecting intellectual property online must not threaten an open and innovative internet, according to the White House.

The White House has urged Congress to create online piracy legislation that does not undermine freedom of expression on the web, following criticism of other areas of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Responding to two petitions about legislative approaches to combat online piracy, Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement co-ordinator at the Office of Management and Budget; Aneesh Chopra, US CTO; and Howard Schmidt, special assistant to the President and cyber security co-ordinator for national security staff, said that while Congress is debating a few pieces of legislation concerning the very real issue of online piracy, it will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.

The legislation includes SOPA, the PROTECT IP Act and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN).

The joint response acknowledged that while online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, "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".

It said the "openness of the internet is increasingly central to innovation in business, government and society and it must be protected", so new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current US law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing US laws and be effectively tailored with strong due process and focused on criminal activity.

It also urged to avoid creating new cyber security risks or disruption of the underlying architecture of the internet, such as through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), and avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.

The US government called on all sides to work together to help create sound legislation that provides prosecutors and rights-holders with legal tools to combat online piracy, and said: “We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of legitimate American values.”

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