The sponsors of the house's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the senate's Protect IP Act (PIPA) have both backed down from their support for DNS filtering, due to the ongoing public backlash against this, and other aspects of the controversial bills.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), followed Sen. Patrick Leahy's lead in removing a provision in their respective bills that would have allowed DNS records to be tampered with in order to redirect web users away from websites "dedicated to piracy".
"After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision. We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers," Smith said in a statement.
Critics have attacked DNS filtering as a dangerous way to prevent piracy, as it opens up the Internet for other risks, and prevents plans to rollout a new version of the Internet's domain name system designed to stop cyber-security threats.
However, the equally controversial IP filtering provision, which forces ISPs to prevent access to IP addresses of known piracy haunts in cases where DNS filtering is inappropriate, may still be present in the bills, and the statements issued by both politicians suggest that DNS filtering could be put back on the agenda at some future date, after the bulk of SOPA/PIPA have been passed.
The MPAA was disappointed at the back downs by Smith and Leahy, and continue to believe that DNS filtering is "an important tool, already used in numerous countries internationally" (including countries like China, Iran and North Korea), and that "it will not break the internet".
But the Electronic Frontier Foundation's intellectual property director, Corynne McSherry, says simply removing DNS filtering is insufficient to make SOPA and PIPA acceptable. "These bills need to be killed altogether," McSherry said. "Our view all along has been they are not fixable."