December 16, 2011
Vint Cerf, the legendary computer scientist who’s known as one of the fathers of the Internet for his work on TCP/IP, is the latest technologist to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Cerf, a onetime DARPA program manager who went on to receive the Turing Award, sent a letter yesterday warning of the dangers of SOPA to its author, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). The House Judiciary chairman, also Hollywood’s favorite House Republican, has scheduleddiscussion of the bill to resume at 7a.m. PT tomorrow.
SOPA represents the latest effort from the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies to counter what they view as rampant piracy on the Internet, especially offshore sites such as ThePirateBay.org. The measure would allow the Justice Department to seek a court order to be served on search engines, Internet providers, and other companies forcing them to make a suspected piratical Web site effectively vanish from the Internet. It’s opposed by a wide range (PDF) of Internet companies, engineers, and civil liberties groups.
Not only will SOPA fail to “be effective in preventing users’ access to illegal, offshore Web sites,” Cerf wrote, but it will also initiate “a worldwide arms race of unprecedented ‘censorship’ of the Web.” Other prominent Internet engineers have offered similar critiques.
Keep reading for the full text of Cerf’s letter to Smith.