Rackspace CEO To Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act At Hearing

Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier

Napier is scheduled to testify at a hearing to be held January 18. The hearing was scheduled to give the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government more insight into opposition against SOPA and the potential Internet pitfalls that away should it pass.

Along with testimony from Napier, chief executive for San Antonio-based cloud giant Rackspace, the committee is expected to hear from a host of other witnesses including Steptoe & Johnson Partner Stewart Baker; Union Square Ventures Partner Brad Burnham; Security Researcher and Fortune 500 Advisor Daniel Kaminsky; American Civil Liberties Union Chief of Staff and First Amendment Council Michael Macleod-Ball; Center for Computer Sciences & Information Technology Sandia National Laboratories Director Leonard Napolitano; and Reddit.com Co-Founder and Web entrepreneur Alexis Ohanion.

Late last year, Napier was among the first among a now growing list of enterprise high-tech executives to speak out against SOPA, a Hollywood-backed bill that supporters say could end online piracy of movies, music, software and other intellectual property and that gives the U.S. government and copyright holders the authority to seek court orders against web sites that infringe upon, pirate or counterfeit that 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. It could also dramatically change the Internet by allowing sites to be blocked by ISPs, removed from search results and other penalties.

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In a December blog post, Napier wrote that while Rackspace supports putting an end to online piracy, SOPA, as it currently stands, would do more harm than good.

"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," Napier wrote in a blog post on the Rackspace cloud blog. "It is bad for job creation and innovation."

Other cloud and Web companies, including DreamHost and Domain.com have also joined in the SOPA opposition.

The upcoming SOPA hearing will focus specifically on how the bill could impact of Domain Name Service (DNS) and search engine blocking on American cyber-security, jobs and the Internet community. It will also explore federal government strategies to protect American intellectual property without adversely affecting economic growth.

"An open Internet is crucial to American job creation, government operations, and the daily routines of Americans from all walks of life," said House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in a statement. "The public deserves a full discussion about the consequences of changing the way Americans access information and communicate on the Internet today."