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Edward J. Black

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Will U.S. Harm Its Economy, Security With Myopic IP Bills?

Posted: 11/01/11 11:41 PM ET

Author's Note:
While this is not an actual intercepted diplomatic cable, I can imagine similar sentiments have been communicated. This legislation is a gift that will keep on giving for several Chinese policy priorities.

To: State Councilor XXXXXXXXX
Beijing
From: Minister XXXXXXXXXX
Washington DC

* Intercepted and translated Memo from Chinese Embassy in the United States to CCP headquarters in Beijing

Subject: Pending U.S. Legislation - Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act

EXTREMELY CONFIDENTIAL

We are happy to report that the U.S. Congress--with the apparent silent support of the White House--is well on its way to creating a massive new Internet filtering regime that will more than legitimize the expansion of our own extensive online censorship efforts. The forthcoming "PROTECT IP" legislation will also threaten the growth of the most economically dynamic and technologically innovative sector of the U.S. economy. As a bonus, the law would create a number of exploitable security vulnerabilities in their domestic networks and in the operation of the global Internet itself.

As you recall, our hypocritical capitalist "friends" lectured us on Internet freedom - most notably in President Obama's Shanghai speech - and the Clinton State Department continues to do so. However, this legislation reveals that significant political leaders are now accepting the notion that "the more freely information flows, the stronger societies are" is a simplistic fallacy. With other key Western governments' realizations that free information flow is dangerous, we're confident this new law will diminish the sustained and irritating Western diplomatic pressure on us to limit our own Internet regulation. U.S. diplomats will have a difficult time lecturing us with a straight face when they have erected their own comprehensive censorship regime in order to kowtow to their entertainment and pornography lobbies.

The proposed legislation will require the U.S. government to compile its own blacklist of websites, similar to our own, with very few of their revered "due process" requirements. Furthermore, sweeping liability provisions in this legislation create a de facto monitoring regime which will require major US websites, online service providers, and many other Internet companies to actively monitor and filter their own customers or risk crippling lawsuits (perhaps even by some of our Chinese companies). In order to block websites, the bill also requires US Domain Name System (DNS) server operators to tamper with DNS entries--creating very exploitable security holes (more on this later)!

From an economic standpoint, the proposed legislation promises to saddle one of the U.S.'s most internationally competitive economic sectors with significant legal risk and a massive number of lawsuits -- seriously hampering growth of and investment. This will prove to be a boon to our own economic interests and improve our trade dominance, thus furthering their financial dependence on us.

Finally, by tampering with DNS entries, millions of U.S. Internet users will likely switch to using less secure DNS servers (or develop even less secure DNS server workarounds) located outside the United States. Needless to say, this will make it even easier for our covert Internet operatives to exploit weaknesses in the U.S. Internet infrastructure.

Recommendation: As Chinese support would harm the prospects of this misguided legislative effort, we should remain silent and keep monitoring the progress of the legislation. The U.S. government is about to shoot their country in the foot -- and we need to refrain from taking action to stop them.

 

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