Rupert Murdoch attacks Barack Obama over online piracy legislation

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Rupert Murdoch attacks Barack Obama over online piracy legislation

Warwick Ashford

News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch has accused Barack Obama's administration of siding with "Silicon Valley paymasters" as two anti-piracy bills go through Congress in the US.

The accusation came in a series of five tweets at the weekend in response to the news that the Obama administration would not tolerate several controversial aspects of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), according to The Guardian.

The White House is particularly opposed to the proposed power to interfere with the architecture of the web by tampering with its Domain Name System (DNS).

"We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet," said White House top technology advisers in a statement. Manipulating the DNS by forcing service providers to block access to pirating sites could damage cyber security by driving users to much more unscrupulous servers, they said.

Rupert Murdoch, whose company 20th Century Fox is calling for a clampdown on online piracy, accused US President Barack Obama of throwing in his lot with “Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery". Murdoch also accused Google of hosting pirated material and selling advertising against it.

But commentators have pointed out that while the Obama administration is opposed to aspects of PIPA and SOPA, the White House statement at the weekend also said online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response.

PIPA and SOPA have been strongly criticised by supporters of a free internet, Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Facebook and start-up entrepreneurs, because they aim to make internet companies accountable for hosting and linking to websites offering illicit downloads of movies, TV shows and music.

Websites including Reddit and possibly even Wikipedia are planning to "go dark" on Wednesday in protest against the proposed bills. They say the bills will lead to censorship of the internet and will prove disastrous for innovation.

Although this is US legislation, PIPA and SOPA could have a profound effect on global businesses and internet sites.

Earlier this month, Tim Berners-Lee, father of the worldwide web, came out in support of a group putting pressure on the US government over PIPA by re-tweeting a post by demandprogress.org/ calling for opposition to the proposed bill.

In an open letter posted in December 2011, Vint Cerf, one of the forefathers of the internet, along with several internet leaders, said PIPA and SOPA would have a chilling effect on innovation, deny website owners the right to due process of law, allow censorship and undermine security.


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