European Parliament criticise controversial US Stop Online Piracy Act

The European Parliament has added its voice to those criticising the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the United States criticising the use of domain names seizures by US authorities on copyright ‘infringing’ websites.

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The European Parliament has added its voice to those criticising the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the United States criticising the use of domain name seizures by US authorities on copyright 'infringing' websites.

On Friday the parliament adopted, by a large majority, a resolution that "stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names."

The move comes after more than 60 civil and human rights organisations wrote a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling for the rejection of SOPA. The letter argues that the act "is as unacceptable to the international community as it would be if a foreign country were to impose similar measures on the United States".

SOPA would enable the US government to block access to websites internationally. This not only includes the .com domain, but also .net and .org, domain names which are used by millions of organisations outside the legal jurisdiction of the United States. But civil liberties groups say that the definitions in SOPA are so broad that it could be interpreted so that no online resource anywhere in the world would be outside US jurisdiction.

"In recent years, the United States has been increasingly using the fact that much of the Internet's infrastructure and key businesses are under US jurisdiction in order to impose sanctions on companies and individuals outside its jurisdiction. This started two years ago when the domain names of a Spanish company owned by a British businessman were removed by a US-based registrar. The company was never accused of breaking Spanish law," said digital civil liberties group EDRi in a statement.

The European Parliament's resolution will now be forwarded to the European Commission, the leaders of the European Union member states and the US Congress ahead of the EU-US Summit on 28 November.