From the perspective of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the greatest threat on the Internet isn’t North Korea but rather domestic piracy. It is public enemy number one. They view it with the same anger that law enforcement of an earlier generation viewed the crimes of gangsters like Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
In fact, they have become so obsessed with this enemy that one of the leaked Sony documents revealed that they were considering pushing for legislation to erase any record that an offending website existed in the first place.
MPAA lawyers are proposing that authorities target the Domain Name System (DNS). The idea was first introduced in 2011 as one solution to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Congress was not impressed and the law failed.
Now the MPAA is at it again, trying to work the idea into existing laws and trying to ally with major ISPs like Comcast to figure out a technical DNS-blocking solution. If these attempts are successful, blocked sites will not be able to deliver content to the United States.
At least one conspiracy has surfaced that the recent North Korea hack on Sony was rather an inside job intended to build a new alliance against the online Axis of Evil: piracy and hacktivism.
Striking At the Nerve Center
The Domain Name System (DNS) is like a telephone book for the Internet. It’s the place where all the telephone numbers are assigned. Think of IP addresses like 8 digit phone numbers, making each computer unique.
If the MPAA gets its way, then it will be like wiping out numbers from the phone book. Wiping out the URL is like erasing someone’s name from a telephone book.
Encouraging a New Black Market
Although blocking a DNS would not wipe out a website, it would just wipe out search engines listing it.
In effect, users could still access the website by typing in the URL directly into the browser and alternative technology like VPNs to access the websites.
This will lead to the creation of directories where users would be exploited for exorbitant fees. Scammers would have a field day, perhaps even creating black market browsers, black market directories, and black market information portals.
How Things Can Quickly Get Out Of Hand
While there is nothing inherently wrong with waging war against piracy, the MPAA is willing to achieve its goals even if it means threatening the freedom of the Internet, revising its basic engineering, and interrupting the way the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing organize search functionality by sending crawlers to index keywords on websites and place them on a search engine results page.
If this legislation ever gets through, it will encourage more absurd restrictions on the robust reach and influence of the Internet as we currently know it. Before long anybody who fell out of favor with the establishment would be conveniently labeled a pirate and cast into oblivion. Only politically correct websites would have a chance of surviving online. It would be the online version of the McCarthy era, where anybody who voiced a controversial opinion was labeled a Communist and taken down though the court system as a public enemy.
In short, the measures proposed by the MPAA are taking things too far. In the name of fighting for a good cause, the MPAA is proposing to make things worse for everyone online. It would be the equivalent of the government declaring a National Emergency because there were some bank robberies in a few states.
UPDATE: As reported by theantimedia.org, President Obama didn’t wait long to use the most recent hacking incident for a renewed push for “CISPA-style” internet regulations. During a recent press conference, Obama said: “We have been correlating with the private sector but a lot more needs to be done,” and urged congress for “stronger cybersecurity laws in the new year.”