Rackspace Speaks Out Against SOPA

In a post on the cloud and hosting provider's cloud blog, Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier spoke out against SOPA in its current form. Rackspace's coming out against the bill is a major move for the 13-year-old tech titan, as the bill was proposed by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), whose 21st Congressional District includes parts of Rackspace's hometown of San Antonio.

"Part of the professional code of physicians is that, when they're treating a patient's ailment, they should 'first, do no harm.' I wish more members of Congress would follow that rule. Instead, in the name of policing the online theft of intellectual property, key lawmakers are pushing a cure that's worse than the disease," Napier wrote.

Rackspace joins a list of companies to speak out against the Hollywood-backed SOPA bill. Companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and others have taken a firm stance against the bill. Rackspace is among the first enterprise-focused companies to publicly denounce SOPA.

SOPA's supporters claim the bill seeks to end online piracy and gives the U.S. government and copyright holders the authority to seek court orders against Web sites that infringe upon, pirate or counterfeit intellectual property. The bill, however, also allows copyright holders and the U.S. Department of Justice to go after Web sites that are unwittingly connected to offending sites. The SOPA bill, critics have said, pulls Internet service providers into the fold to block customers from accessing offending sites.

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SOPA currently awaits final vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

SOPA has divided the Internet industry and has caused a massive ripple effect being felt throughout the Web. Last week, Web site provider GoDaddy.com saw a mass customer exodus after the oft-controversial company was listed among SOPA supporters. Go Daddy quickly did an about-face and dropped its SOPA support, but not after losing an estimated 70,000 domains and facing a potential boycott.

According to Napier, Rackspace fully supports the bill's bid to crack down on Web sites that peddle stolen movies, music, software and other intellectual property, but said SOPA, as it stands, does not achieve that. For example, Napier wrote, foreign intellectual property thieves could skirt the law.

Additionally, should SOPA pass, it would put Rackspace in the sticky position of having to censor customers.

"Meanwhile, SOPA would require that Rackspace and other Internet service providers censor their customers with little in the way of due process, trumping the protections present in the current Digital Millennium Copyright Act. What's more, the SOPA bill would seriously disrupt the Domain Name Service that is crucial to the smooth operation of the Web," Napier wrote.

Napier, who recently traveled to Washington to urge Congress to slow the process and better understand the Internet and how to legislate it, said Rackspace has also been working with members of Congress and their staffs to amend SOPA. Napier also asked Rackspace employees to contact representatives and discuss the harm that SOPA, as written, could pose to Rackspace customers and employees, along with the greater Internet and the economy.

"The SOPA bill, as it stands, is a deeply flawed piece of legislation. It is bad for anyone who uses the Internet, including Rackspace, the more than 160,000 business customers that we serve, and the tens of millions of retail customers that they serve," the Rackspace chief executive wrote. "It is bad for job creation and innovation."