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House Oversight & Government Reform Committee To Hold Hearing On DNS, Search Engine Blocking

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, January 9 2012

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Monday announced that it's holding a hearing next Wednesday to examine the cybersecurity and job creation implications of Domain Name Service and search engine blocking, ideas that are being considered in a proposed but controversial intellectual property protection bill that's moving through the House.

The full committee hearing will feature seven panelists that include Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of the link-sharing community Reddit; Stewart Baker, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson and former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary; venture capitalist Brad Burnham, a partner at Union Square Ventures; security researcher Daniel Kaminsky; Michael Macleod-Ball, the American Civil Liberties' first amendment counsel; and others.

All of the witnesses have spoken out against the blocking provisions in the Stop Online Piracy Act, and have said that mandates in the bill would mess with cybersecurity, destabilize the Internet and undermine the ability of community-sites (which is everyone these days) to survive as viable businesses online.

Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.), the committee's chairman, has expressed opposition to the SOPA legislation in its current form. A companion bill in the Senate, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, appears to be on the fast track. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.) has said that he plans to introduce PIPA to the senate floor for consideration on January 24 despite a threat to filibuster the legislation by Sens. Maria Cantwell, (D-Wash.,) Jerry Moran (R-Kan.,) Rand Paul (R-Ky.,) and Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.)

Reddit's role in the fight over SOPA has been influential: On Monday, Congressman Paul Ryan, (R-Wisc.) issue a statement out of the blue about his concerns with the legislation:

"The internet is one of the most magnificent expressions of freedom and free enterprise in history. It should stay that way.

While H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, attempts to address a legitimate problem, I believe it creates the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse.

I do not support H.R. 3261 in its current form and will oppose the legislation should it come before the full House."

As CNET's Declan McCullugh speculates, the statement was likely prompted by a reddit campaign that was launched against Ryan over the past month, and for his Democratic challenger Rob Zerban.

Reddit users also organized a campaign against domain name registrar and web hosting company GoDaddy for its support of the legislation. The company ultimately changed its position.

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