Paul Vixie Has a “Hollywood” Problem: Richard Bennett and George Ou Provide A Counterargument to the Technocratic Criticism of DNS Filtering of Rogue Sites

The network engineer Richard Bennett (who edits High Tech Forum among other things) has a very informative and nontechnical article in the New York Post explaining why the Internet will not be “broken” by rogue sites legislation.

“SOPA simply requires ISPs to delist the Internet addresses of foreign sites  found by a US court to be dedicated to criminal activities. DNS has had the  ability to delist sites since it was designed in 1987, and all widely used DNS  services have this capability.

SOPA critics charge that such filtering breaks the Internet, but it does no  such thing as long as it’s done sensibly. (Security experts criticized an early  version of SOPA, but the amended bill addresses their concerns.) It’s a  practical means of protecting consumers from rogue sites that traffic in illegal  goods.

The opposition to SOPA preys on ignorance and fear. Most Internet users don’t  understand the details of DNS or the methods used by Internet search engines.  It’s easy for the apologists for the Internet status quo to convince the less  well informed that the Internet is too big and complicated to improve. But  they’re wrong.”

Another network engineer, George Ou, has written “DNS Filtering is Essential to the Internet,” an excellent piece that responds to the criticism of DNS filtering mounted by opponents of intellectual property rights.  George’s post is also very readable for the non-technical person.  Ou also has an excellent paper on the use of DNS filtering for rogue sites purposes which lays out the more technical side of the story.  Ou’s paper is part of the written testimony submitted to the House of Representatives on the rogue sites legislation.

A key section is George’s review of one of the more significant and serious filtering systems and its principal developer who said:

Paul Vixie:
 “I’ve been asked by several people whether ISC’s Response Policy Zone technology…can be used to implement government mandated DNS blocking, for example to protect Hollywood [sic] against intellectual property theft or to protect children against abuse by the distribution and viewing of Child Abuse Materials or to protect a society against content deemed dangerous by its government. Sadly my answer to this is a qualified “yes.”  I say “qualified” because while I can agree that it’s worth perturbing the whole Internet ecosystem to wipe out a domain that’s being used for the distribution of Child Abuse Materials I simply cannot agree that this level of perturbation is warranted for the protection of intellectual property.” (Emphasis mine.)

Or as Lessig said, why “break the Internet” to save “this tiny industry”.  Who neither seem to like very much.

What is remarkable about these statements is the only people who may be listening to this side of the story is the majority on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.  Judging by the level of hysteria that Google et al are whipping up out there, Chairmen Smith and Leahy seem to have put their finger right on a sore spot–or perhaps a profit center.

Since it seems that even the anti-rogue sites (and in their own way, anti-creator) experts acknowledge that DNS blocking is an inconvenience they are not prepared to accept when it involves a “tiny industry”, they should ask themselves if it is so inconvenient that they are willing to bet the company.

Because when it comes time to break up Google, guess who won’t be around to defend them?  But guess who will be around to judge them.  And maybe prosecute them.