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

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