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Political, PR and Practical Considerations to SOPA

Reddit and a growing number of other sites including gaming company Destructoid and Red 5 Studios, are promising to go dark on January 18, to protest the twin online bills in Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.

Other sites may join in, namely Wikipedia, provided that enough of its contributors agree to a black out.

Unbending Politicians

Yet it does not appear that legislators who wrote the bills are in any mind to back down. Republican Representative Lamar Smith all but called the bills’ opponents anti-American in comments to Reuters.

"Are they somehow benefitting by directing customers to these foreign websites? Do they profit from selling advertising to these foreign websites? And if they do, they need to be stopped. And I don't mind taking that on."

On the other hand, Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, is showing signs of backing off–he now recommend that "more study" be given to whether U.S. attorney generals should be able to compel Internet service providers to block the sites’ domain names or Web addresses. (via the Wall Street Journal).

Comcast's In a Fix

A TechDirt post, meanwhile, makes a very interesting point: let’s say the bills do pass. Some ISPs—namely Comcast—would have difficulty complying with it.

Comcast has just completed its DNSSEC deployment. It is also shutting down its Domain Helper service, which means they will not be able to use DNS filters to block websites. Comcast owns NBC Universal, which is one of the main forces behind SOPA/PIPA.

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