A discussion came up on a mailing list I frequent about the “economic cost” of SOPA.

Executive summary:  very, very expensive.

The email itself:

Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 23:47:30 -0800
From: Scott Doty <scott@sonic.net>
To: A mailing list for Foo Camp alumni
Subject: Re: [FooCampers] Economic cost of SOPA/PIPA implementation (for America)

Duane quoted:
>From the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property “Under the provisions on national treatment, the Convention provides that, as regards the protection of industrial property, each contracting State must grant the same protection to nationals of the other contracting States as it grants to its own nationals.”

I’ve always looked at this from the standpoint that some automated feed would be developed that would contain the names of domains to be blocked.  This is what the federal government, primarily the executive branch, wants:  an “internet kill switch” for selected domains, aka “Internet Death Penalty”.  I would be very surprised if the DHS wasn’t thinking of the same control they have through CALEA, as well as proposed “CALEA for broadband”.

I do not think any one government should have such a capability, let alone the executive branch of one government.  Because if they have their Internet Death Penalty, it _will_ be abused.

This isn’t CT — it’s their track record with the intercept powers given them under the Patriot Act, as well as bypassing the FISA courts that were supposed to keep egregious uses of intercepts in check.  Indeed, the FISA courts were designed for individual intercepts — not the mass monitoring that is going on today.

And I know one site that will be unviewable in the U.S., should DHS get their Internet Death Penalty:  Wikileaks.  (Which is a major impetus for all this nonsense in the first place.)  Think about it:  if they had had IDP before the Wikileaks fiasco, would it have been employed in stopping Wikileaks?  And if so, would there have been an “Arab Spring?”  After all — it’s fair to say that Wikileaks disclosures “destabilized the region”, which has been a huge Middle East boogieman since as long as I can remember.

And this isn’t just one isolated case — it is a systemic problem.  Our parent’s generation, who in our government tell themselves that they are “in charge”, act as if they have two parts authoritarianism and one part cluelessness in their makeup.  They act as though they do not have the _courage_ to trust We the People.  And the U.S. 4th Estate is all but destroyed, eschewing fact-checking for bullsh*t controversy — because, baby, controversy sells.

If you were to trust what passes for “news” today in our fair nation, you would be seeing serial killers behind every tree, and terrorists behind every bush.  A lot of people do see just that.  The U.S. media has trained We the People distrust our neighbors and our fellow countrymen — even if they aren’t Muslim.

I could go on, but you had a specific question:  what would be the “economic cost” of SOPA?  One could try to make the case that it would be very expensive, but I’m not sure that it would be accurate.  Because it can be done very cheaply and fairly automatically — DHS would have their blacklist (at a url or feed of some type), and ISP’s will be required to grab the IDP feed and use it.  Nameserver software would be modified.  And anyone DHS wants to penalize with Internet Death will go *poof* to the U.S. internet.

That’s the cheap part.

The expensive part will be enforcing the provisions that those in the U.S. may not circumvent SOPA mechanisms.  Because enacting SOPA would usher in a dark, cypherpunk, dystopian future, much like we all got excited about as teenagers.  Anyone with an eye toward freedom will be using anonymizing networks, such as tor, to reach the sites killed by a DHS IDP.  And it’s ironic that tor itself was developed for just this purpose, with funding from our own State Department — but for places like Iran and China.

It is said that the Internet regards censorship as “damage”, and routes around it.  So places like Finland won’t just be hosting web servers, but hosting vpn’s as well.  So part of your “economic cost” will be however much the U.S. government will spend with draconian, dystopian crackdowns on vpns and tor exits in Finland and other free countries.

Friend, this is bordering on crazy talk — but it’s exactly what SOPA proponents want to do.  And personally, I am fed up with these bad, bad bills moving to being one or two votes away from becoming law.  (Or actually making it into law, such as the new codification of indefinite detention in the last NDAA.)

There is a status link on here:  https://www.torproject.org/  if you want to try to estimate how many tor exits they’ll have to go after.  I’m not sure how you’d estimate the number of non-U.S. anonymizing proxies, or the number of existing anonymizing networks.

Hope that helps.

-Scott