SOPA: House to hear testimony from Reddit co-founder, Rackspace CEO & others

The U.S. House of Representatives has invited a small group of security experts and tech industry leaders to testify about potential risks associated with passing legislation like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced today.

The list of people asked to address Congress includes Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier, Union Square Ventures Partner Brad Burnham, security researcher Daniel Kaminsky and others. The committee has scheduled a full hearing for January 18.

For anyone who’s still in the dark about the proposed legislation, here’s a quick rundown: SOPA gives both the U.S. government and copyright holders the authority to seek court orders against websites associated with infringing, pirating and/or counterfeiting intellectual property. The implication of having the act pass is that it could drastically change the way the Internet operates. For example, if a website is accused of containing copyright-infringing content (such as a song, picture or video clip), the site could be blocked by ISPs, de-indexed from search engines and even prevented from doing business with companies like PayPal. [For more information about the proposed SOPA legislation, check out this infographic about the bill's negative effect on business and innovation as well as VentureBeat’s ongoing SOPA coverage.]

“The public deserves a full discussion about the consequences of changing the way Americans access information and communicate on the Internet today,” said committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in a statement.

The hearing will also explore federal government strategies to protect American intellectual property without adversely affecting economic growth.

As for who will deliver the testimony, it’s a pretty competent group of people who (arguably) aren’t just a bunch of SOPA protesters. For instance, Kaminsky is regarded highly by many computer security experts for his work exploring DNS Cache Poisoning, while Ohanian is the spokesperson for one of the largest and most active online communities in the world.

We’re reaching out to a few of the people on the list below for additional comment and will update the post with any new information.

Full statement from the House Committee:

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today announced that the Full Committee will hold a hearing on January 18 to examine the potential impact of Domain Name Service (DNS) and search engine blocking on American cyber-security, jobs and the Internet community. In light of policy proposals affecting the way taxpayers access the Internet, the hearing will also explore federal government strategies to protect American intellectual property without adversely affecting economic growth. The Committee will hear testimony from top cyber-security experts and technology job creators.

“An open Internet is crucial to American job creation, government operations, and the daily routines of Americans from all walks of life,” said Issa. “The public deserves a full discussion about the consequences of changing the way Americans access information and communicate on the Internet today.”

Witnesses

  • Mr. Stewart Baker: Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
  • Mr. Brad Burnham: Partner, Union Square Ventures
  • Mr. Daniel Kaminsky: Security Researcher and Fortune 500 Advisor
  • Mr. Michael Macleod-Ball: Chief of Staff/First Amendment Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Mr. Lanham Napier: Chief Executive Officer, Rackspace Hosting
  • Dr. Leonard Napolitano: Director, Center for Computer Sciences & Information Technology Sandia National Laboratories
  • Mr. Alexis Ohanian: Co-Founder, Reddit.com, and Web Entrepreneur