Some of the Internet's leading websites, including Wikipedia, Reddit,
Mozilla, WordPress, and BoingBoing, will go dark
to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP
Act (PIPA). The U.S. bills have generated massive public protest over
proposed provisions that could cause enormous harm
to the Internet and freedom
My blog will join the protest by going dark tomorrow. While there is
little that Canadians can do to influence U.S. legislation, there are
many reasons why I think it is important for Canadians to participate.
First, the SOPA provisions are designed to have an extra-territorial
effect that manifests itself particularly strongly in Canada. As I
discussed in a column
last year, SOPA treats all dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org domain as
domestic domain names for U.S. law purposes. Moreover, 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. To put this is context, every Canadian Internet provider
relies on ARIN for its block of IP addresses. In fact, ARIN even
allocates the block of IP addresses used by federal and provincial
governments. The U.S. bill would treat them all as domestic for U.S.
Second, Canadian businesses and websites could easily find themselves
targeted by SOPA. The bill grants the U.S. "in rem" jurisdiction over
any website that does not have a domestic jurisdictional connection.
For those sites, the U.S. grants jurisdiction over the property of the
site and opens the door to court orders requiring Internet providers to
block the site and Internet search engines to stop linking to it.
Should a Canadian website owner wish to challenge the court order, U.S.
law asserts itself in another way, since in order for an owner to file
a challenge (described as a "counter notification"), the owner must
first consent to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts.
TagsShareTuesday January 17, 2012