SOPA authorises the justice department to seek court order and require US Internet service providers, advertising networks, Internet payment gateway providers and search engines to block copyright violators. Mainly intended to bring foreign pirate sites to their knees, SOPA has met with fierce opposition from the Internet community and corporate giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, Reddit and many more.
Although called anti-piracy, SOPA still leaves many legitimate websites exposed to undue censorship from ISPs and search engines. Even a temporary restraining order for a single page or sub-domain could get the entire website to be blocked as a full block reduces the compliance cost on the part of local ISPs.
Anticipating the possible DNS blocking, a new open-source browser extension "DeSOPA" has been released for Firefox with support from Mozilla. It enables Internet users from the US to automatically connect to foreign DNS servers for IP address resolution instead of using the local ISP's DNS records.
How DeSOPA works
The extension gives you a DeSopa button on your browser. Whenever you find a website blocked due to SOPA, just click on the DeSopa button and Firefox will send the request to one of three DNS servers located outside the US. Although this is a bit slower than getting the IP from your local ISP, DeSopa caches valid server IPs, so future page requests for that domain will be as fast as earlier.
Downsides of DeSopa.
Although DeSopa seems to completely override any SOPA restrictions, there are some downsides.
- When DeSopa is activated, the address bar of the browser will display the IP address of the website rather than its domain name. The same will hold good for any internal links of the website as well.
- A small delay will be experienced when accessing a blocked site for the first time. Firefox needs to get and compare DNS records from three different servers outside US.
- The page will need to be accessible in the countries that your DNS is being routed through. This could also potentially lead to some pages being displayed in foreign languages.
Of course, you don't need DeSopa add-on right now. Congress won’t be voting on the bill until January, and even if it passes, implementation will take time. But still, having defences in place ahead of time will definitely help you to sleep better.