Blacknight Says No To SOPA

Blacknight Does Not Support SOPA

Blacknight Says No To SOPA

We’ve always been strong believers in striking as sane a balance as possible between privacy, freedom of expression and protection of both 3rd parties’ rights and due process.

We maintain good relations with law enforcement, government and the security community.

We take our responsibility as a good corporate citizen in the internet ecosystem very seriously.

However, we also are very strong believers in that very same ecosystem. In the power and freedom and that the internet has brought to us all and we oppose any attempts to undermine it. It is an unfortunate reality that all too often the well intended spirit of legislation gets perverted by the interests of big business.

I thought our stance on this was pretty clear, as we were quite outspoken about Eircom’s agreement with IRMA, as well as the entire IRMA vs the ISPs debacle.
But over the last week we have received a number of requests for clarification from both existing and potential clients, so I thought it best to set the record straight.

Blacknight does not support SOPA.

We never have and we never would have.

Granting any entity the power to unilaterally remove entire domain names from the internet without a proper judicial process is an incredibly dangerous concept. Demanding that ISPs block access to domain names is censorship.

Of course it’s understandable how we got here.

The debate about taking down websites and domains has been going on for quite some time, but suffers from one incredibly large flaw. It commingles IP rights (civil) with fraud and other serious crimes.

There is a very large difference between serious crime and IP rights infringements. Yes, there are times when the two go hand in hand, but a much more narrowly targeted bit of legislation would probably have done a much better job. If, for example, the legislation focused on fake pharmaceuticals that have led to actual deaths and ONLY targeted websites that sold them, then it would be very hard to argue against it. If you have a look at the supporters of the bill it’s pretty clear where their interests lie.

And legislation like SOPA is incredibly dangerous. It doesn’t matter if you are an Irish or French or German website owner. If you are using a domain name that is controlled by a US entity ie. any domain under  .com, .net, .org and .biz, then you could be impacted.

How? Why?

Unfortunately the wording of the bill is such that innocent website owners could easily get caught in the crossfire. And it’s not a case of the hosting provider or even the DNS provider pulling the domain name or its related services. The US government moved beyond that quite some time ago and is now quite content to go directly to the registry operators ie. the companies that are at the top of the “food chain” and actually put the domains into the DNS.

If you haven’t read up on SOPA then Dave Piscitello’s link dump here is well worth perusing.

So in case it’s not clear. Blacknight does NOT support SOPA.

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15 Responses to Blacknight Does Not Support SOPA

  1. Keith Gaughan December 28, 2011 at 18:03 #

    You might want to extend that to not supporting PIPA or ACTA, given the the former is like an ever-so-slightly less-worse version of SOPA to get the provisions the supporters of both bills want in by presenting it as the the nicer alternative.

    ACTA (as an international agreement) is similarly worrying, and unfortunately may end up being ratified by the EU member states:

  2. Cian de Buitléir December 29, 2011 at 02:57 #


    I’m about to start moving around 200 domains out of godaddy (progressively as they approach expiry) and am taking the opportunity to get them out of this fascist police state as well…. Next up will be moving my servers out of San Jose and Texas 🙂

    • Cian de Buitléir December 29, 2011 at 03:51 #

      🙁 I was starting to shift some domains, but your cart tried to hit me up for VAT, though I have a San José, CA, US address?

  3. Cian de Buitléir December 29, 2011 at 03:00 #

    Sadly I won’t put a server in Ireland (probablly some domains though) – I’m not big on data or log retention, user privacy….

  4. Cian de Buitléir December 29, 2011 at 07:40 #

    I still have a handful of paid clients, though I stopped accepting the public for hosting years ago. Isn’t there something about Irish ISPs and requiring log data retention etc? My attitude to privacy is if I don’t have it, no one can get it 🙂

    Anyway, I’ll be sending some domains your way 🙂

    I’m surprised that more foreign Registrars aren’t making Hay with SOPA (but glad you are), I’m not sure why the US public is rushing to move domains from godaddy to other US registrars*. Okay it does make a political point, but doesn’t do much about the vulnerability (well nothing would to do the DNS threat – but at least not being US registered protects somewhat (I’m thinking the Spanish company with the Cuba travel websites).

    (*i did just move 2 to another US one, as they were expiring, I was in a hurry)

    • Michele Neylon December 29, 2011 at 08:06 #


      The data retention directive refers primarily to email logs – nothing else – and if you’re using shared hosting is an issue for the hosting provider, not you.
      However EU law respects privacy, so the logs that can be retained cannot contain content of messages.
      Compared to some of the US legislation where pretty much everything can be seized on foot of a sealed order I know which jurisdiction I’d prefer to keep my data in.


      • Cian de Buitléir December 29, 2011 at 09:01 #

        I’m the provider for others via my dedicated boxes so retention could apply to me (but I’d ignore it). I’m trying to wean everyone off my machines. Good point RE the US, in most cases they don’t even bother with sealed orders anymore, or in fact any orders, it’s often wink-nod, and most ToSes actually allow for that with phrasing like “can do so if *we feel* it is necessary to prevent… cooperate with Law Enforcement”, and even those that don’t say that do it anyway… and there’s virtually no privacy protection here.

        I’ll look into your dedicated boxes. Legal or otherwise, I’d outright refuse to retain email logs. Though data retention requirements are on the rise here too now.

        Anyway, thanks for speaking out on SOPA. My soap box of the week…

  5. Michael January 9, 2012 at 14:02 #

    100% with you guys! NO TO SOPA!

  6. Simon McGuinness January 9, 2012 at 16:30 #

    SOPA is not just a step too far, it is a step into globalised state terrorism.

    Already the US Govt has used EXISTING powers to shut down over 100 websites operated by Stephen Marshall (, a British entrepreneur doing perfectly ordinary commercial things like sending European tourists to the Caribbean on holidays, or just posting brochures of hotels and blogs aimed at assisting tourists who wish to visit there on their own steam. Infamous domain names shut down included, and

    What have these websites got in common? All carry tourist information about the ever popular tourist destination of Cuba. None have been reinstated and Mr Marshall has no right of appeal.

    If the US Office of Foreign Assets Control can, in yet another outrageous example, legally intercept a £600 cheque sent from a trade union in Belfast to an NGO in Dublin which was fundraising to supply doctors in Haiti with high quality, ultra cheep medicines purchased in Cuba (30 miles from the epicentre) in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and cause the cheque to be returned, just think what it could achieve with additional powers.

    The EU condemns the US financial blockade of Cuba every year but does precisely nothing to stop it and, so far, everything to facilitate it. They will do precisely the same for European businesses blacklisted under SOPA: turn a blind eye to state terrorism.

  7. Oskaras Liskovas January 9, 2012 at 20:05 #

    It is just unbelievable to what level the fascist state USA can terrorise the whole world. Never ever will do business there. All domains will be moved to Europe upon their expiry.

    I wish, that Irish community could boycott Eircom on internet censorship they implemented with IRMA.

  8. Andrew Clarke January 9, 2012 at 20:39 #

    Your position on SOPA is to be commended. It’s for exactly these reasons that I host and resell with BlackNight. Keep up the great work!