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IP blocking « The FORWARD project blog

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SOPA’s latest threat: IP blocking, privacy-busting packet inspection

Monday, November 21st, 2011

According to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a network provider can be ordered to prevent access by its US subscribers to allegedly piratical Web sites. That language did not appear in an earlier version, Protect IP Act.

Markham Erickson, head of NetCoalition, mentions that his company would cover IP blocking and it performs deep packet inspection.

Protect IP, on the other hand, doesn’t oblige the ISPs to block their customers from visiting the numeric IP addresses of off-limits web sites and doesn’t perform deep packet inspection.

The head of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) supports the legislation, by suggesting SOPA to be used to force Internet providers to block by IP address and deny access to only the illegal part of a site.

SOPA is designed to respond to the rise of pirate-content  sites and it allows the attorney general to seek a court order against the targeted site that would be served on ISPs , causing the target to disappear.

An aide to the House Judiciary committee stated that IP address blocking and deep packet inspection could be necessary and it would be up to a judge to mark a site as blocked.

Deep packet inspection is the only way to block data from specific pages, and may cause privacy issues as it monitors customers’ browsing.

ISPs aren’t enthusiastic enough about SOPA. Verizon ISP has concerns about the legislation and is working with congressional staff to address them.

AT&T remains supportive of the general framework of the Senate bill (similar to SOPA), but when it comes to SOPA “it is working constructively with Chairman Smith and others toward a similar end in the House.”

Sonic.net says that it’s technically feasible for them to block a list of IP addresses provided by the government, even though it becomes more difficult as the list grows.

On the other hand, Jasper says that deep packet inspection wouldn’t be feasible:
“We have no capability to do this, so it would not be technically feasible, as it would require complete re-engineering and re-deployment of our network”.

According to SOPA, an ISP must take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the US to the blocked site that is subject to the order.

The RIAA says that SOPA is much more flexible than Senate bill, as it isn’t such specific. “Instead of setting a particular type of technological response in statue, the bill is flexible to allow an ISP to choose the best method, which today may be DNS blocking. If the ISP feels that any one method may have detrimental effect on the DNS system or on its network, or of technology changes, it is not locked in.”

Unlike SOPA, the Senate bill and Protect IP target DN system providers , financial companies and ad networks and not Internet Connectivity services.

Public Knowlede legal director, Sherwin Siy, stated that the obligations of an ISP receiving those orders are notar enough.

Seth Schoen characterizes as “surprising” the fact that SOPA is much broader than Protect IP.

If all of these apply, SOPA’s blacklists will start to make the US look like more repressive regimes.

Source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57328045-281/sopas-latest-threat-ip-blocking-privacy-busting-packet-inspection/?tag=mncol