SOPA: the whole world's Internet under US jurisdiction

Michael Geist sez,

The U.S. Congress is currently embroiled in a heated debated over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), proposed legislation that supporters argue is needed combat online infringement, but critics fear would create the "great firewall of the United States." While these measures have unsurprisingly raised concern among Internet companies and civil society groups, the jurisdictional implications demand far more attention. The U.S. approach is breathtakingly broad, effectively treating millions of websites and IP addresses as "domestic" for U.S. law purposes.

For example, it defines a "domestic domain name" as a domain name "that is registered or assigned by a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority, that is located within a judicial district of the United States." Since every dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org domain is managed by a domain name registry in the U.S., the law effectively asserts jurisdiction over tens of millions of domain names regardless of where the registrant actually resides.

Second, it defines "domestic Internet protocol addresses" - the numeric strings that constitute the actual address of a website or Internet connection - as "an Internet Protocol address for which the corresponding Internet Protocol allocation entity is located within a judicial district of the United States." Yet IP addresses are allocated by regional organizations, not national ones. The allocation entity located in the U.S. is called ARIN, the American Registry for Internet Numbers. Its territory includes the U.S., Canada, and 20 Caribbean nations. This bill treats all IP addresses in this region as domestic for U.S. law purposes.

SOPA: All Your Internets Belong to US


  1. It should come as no particular surprise that an American law treats sovereignty as a right that is granted exclusively to the United States.

    1. Enough mines should do the trick. I pitty the canadians and mexicans that have to live next door to them tho…

  2. This whole thing is like looking at the subway, noticing that there are fare cheats, & then deciding that from now on trains will be slower, kept dark, & you will be subject to random beatings…because that is the ONLY WAY to stop the turnstyle jumpers.

  3. I like to cover my bases and i’ve been meaning to do this for a while. Assuming this pile of crap passes,  where should i start registing my domains out of? Liechtenstein?

      1. ICANN is more of a problem than a cure, as it is now.  They can not seem to exercise their power effectively.

      1. Well they do, but I was to understand it that if you had the money, you too could decide what laws america lives by, usually by lobbying and paying off people who vote for certain laws.

  4. This is what really scares me, if this passes this will affect me directly and almost everyone else. And yet I have absolutely no say in it just because I’m not a US citizen nor a resident.

  5. Dear Americans, please stop this nonsense before your leaders impose yet another paranoid madness on the rest of the world. Thank you.

  6. Now, IANAL and SOPA is not a law that I would like to find myself defending (and I don’t feel that what I’m about to say somehow validates it), but it seems to me that there’s some reasonable thinking behind the definition of “domestic domain names” and “domestic Internet protocol address”.

    That is, the names and addresses themselves are domestic in the US, since their point of origin (registration or allocation, in this case) is within US jurisdiction.

    Of course, I thought that was how it worked with beer until I was informed by a waitress during happy hour that “craft” brews are a different category than domestic, no matter where they are made.  I think that means that the “$2 domestic drafts” claim is misleading, but no one who could change my tab seemed to agree, so perhaps I’m mistaken.

    1.  I think that means that the “$2 domestic drafts” claim is misleading, but no one who could change my tab seemed to agree, so perhaps I’m mistaken.

      Wow.  You actually argued about this with staff, trying to get them to give you craft beer for the domestic price?  Really?  You’re one of those people?  Yikes.

      1. Is that so bad?  It’s not as if I’m saying it’s unfair to charge more for craft beers, just that a craft beer made in the US is a domestic beer (in the US).  I think it’s reasonable to think that if a special only applies to Bud Light, and not to any other domestic beer on tap, then maybe it should say “$2 Bud Light drafts” instead of “$2 domestic drafts”.

        More on topic, the point of my original post was simply to point out that the meaning of the word domestic in these contexts is generally that something domestic in a given country originated in said country, and is translated to domain names and IP addresses in what I think may be a reasonable manner.  This is in contrast with common usage at small time bars and restaurants with regard to beer, where it can refer to some particular subset of cheap beer (occasionally not even one that’s produced domestically).

        1. Yes, it is that bad.  And obnoxious.  And pointless.  And ridiculous. And you know exactly what kind of beers they are referring to, yet you still insist on being that guy. Every time you try to argue that with a server or manager, when you leave, they talk amongst themselves about how utterly obnoxious you were being. Every time. Guaranteed.

  7. Dear BB,

    Just a humble suggestion: could you consider replacing that giant, obnoxious JS popup that renders BB nigh unnavigable with something else, like a giant banner at the top of each page?

    Thank you.

    (Also, I guess BB _does_ have an editorial stance and is not just a collection of authors with their own views.)

    1. “that giant, obnoxious JS popup that renders BB nigh unnavigable”That’s the whole point – to make a point.

      1. That’s the whole point – to make a point.

        If you have an older computer, then the point turns out to be “What the hell is this non-removable gray box with a video of a monkey flickering in and out from behind it?” Clicking the close box did nothing — was that part of the point too?

        I don’t like SOPA, but presenting me with a stunt advertisement that gives me technical issues to wrestle with first thing in the morning is not going to deepen my sympathy.

  8. This won’t pass!! They may think it’s a good idea but I know some people in the senate have some common sense!! They will realize the ramifications of this bill. Because we will not be the only ones who will protest, the WHOLE world will. The American government needs to get it’s head out of it’s ass and realize they can’t control everything. The internet is probably the only thing we have left that was created for the people by the people. They can’t take it away. They can’t control it.WE WON”T LET THEM!!!!!

    1. Unfortunately we are treated more and more as if we were being farmed. Maybe Charles Fort was right and we are owned.
      The “leaders” (who are called “ministers” and civil “servants” in UK because their role is supposed to be to administer on our behalf) actually want Total control over everything us masses do and think.
      They had it for a long time with religion, they had it also with newspapers and television and they want the Internet also. They also see it as a last bastion of freedom so it’s only logical they will try to control it. This is in my opinion a direct result of the WWW becoming commercial.

  9. Attention rest of world: When you have 11 aircraft carriers you can be the boss! Also I agree with you all, this needs to be killed.

  10. Not news. US legislators have long considered any non-national LTD US territory and subject to US law…

Comments are closed.