SOPA & PIPA The Damage They Can do.
With permission from Dr. Barnathan, I am reprinting his letter to Congressman Lamar Smith. Congressman Smith is the author of SOPA. A law, which threatens to devastate our DNS system and takes a giant hatchet to free speech. This letter can be found on the congressman's Facebook page, a link is provided below.
" Michael Barnathan - If
I may join the chorus of angry voices posting on an unrelated wall
topic (because you don't allow more general commenting on your wall) for
a moment, the SOPA bill you authored threatens to undermine one of the
foundations of the Internet, the Domain Name System (DNS).
computer scientist, allow me to enlighten you as to just one reason,
though a major one, why this implication of your bill is fundamentally
DNS is the "phone book" of the Internet, and is the reason you can access Facebook at www.facebook.com
rather than, say, 18.104.22.168. If your bill succeeds, large swaths of
the 'net could potentially go dark in very unpredictable and scary
ways. More fundamentally, your bill would irreparably weaken DNSSEC, the
system which provides DNS with its network security, making it
impossible to legally implement DNSSEC in a working manner. This
(re)opens sites to a type of attack known as DNS poisoning.
Here's what this means in English: let's imagine we're in a post-SOPA
world. Say that you log onto Facebook to post on your wall. Your browser
reads facebook.com, but unknown to you, a DNS attack on Facebook has
taken place, and Facebook's "phone book" entry now points to an
illegitimate site. You are sent to that site, most likely hosted in a
foreign country. Since the browser still claims you're at facebook.com
and the site otherwise looks like Facebook, you feel no hesitation when
the site prompts you for your password. Your account is now compromised,
and you don't even know it.
And it wouldn't be just you.
Everyone logging onto Facebook at that time would have their accounts
compromised. Individual hackers would love it. So would hostile foreign
governments looking for ways to weaken the American infrastructure and
Are you starting to see why weakening DNS is a bad
idea? Here's another reason: the current Domain Name System is largely
an American-owned service. Almost all of the "root" servers which form
the system's backbone reside in the USA, and the system is controlled by
the Department of Commerce. That is the only reason why your
legislation could have any jurisdiction over the system at all, of
But the Internet is a vastly complex worldwide network.
It has a knack for routing around damage. So what would most likely
instead happen is a massive switch to an unregulated and highly
distributed DNS system which is completely outside of any national
control. Whoever owns DNS owns the Internet, and such a system could
quickly grow to such a scale that you could never suppress it, unless
you relish the entire network going down.
If you're still
reading by this point, I'm impressed. Did it make sense? With all
respect, if it doesn't, you need to acquire a better understanding of
the technologies which make the Internet work before you propose
legislation which will impact them. I will be happy to explain anything
further, as I suspect will anyone with expertise in this area.
If nothing else, think for a moment about the unusually large number of
people and organizations with technical expertise coming out of the
woodwork to tell you how bad an idea this bill is, and admit that
perhaps there are sound reasons why it is untenable.
Dr. Michael Barnathan
Ph. D. Computer Science."
****Thanks to Dr Barnathan for so kindly allowing me to reprint your very informative letter.