Controversial anti-piracy legislation being considered by the US government could block innocent web sites operated by UK businesses and consumers, according to experts.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was debated in Congress yesterday, and a number of major technology companies, including Facebook, eBay, Yahoo and Mozilla, wrote a letter stating their opposition to the plans.
Meanwhile, another letter signed by more than 40 human rights groups (PDF), including the UK's Open Rights Group, argued that the bill will censor and fragment the internet.
SOPA authorises the court to order ISPs, search companies and advertising services to take action against copyright-infringing web sites.
ISPs would be required to modify servers to return empty responses for such sites, while search firms would have to filter results and advertising services would be obliged to take revenue away from the site operators.
US hosting companies and publishing platforms, like Rackspace, WordPress and Blogger, would also have to comply with the legislation, meaning that companies using their services could also be affected, wherever their location.
According to the policy document, if one domain is affected by SOPA, all subdomain designations using the liable domain name as part of an address will be affected.
"We are concerned with the jurisdiction issue," Open Rights Group campaigner Peter Bradwell told V3.
"The documents are very vaguely worded, but we assume that the bill will extend power over web sites that we wouldn't normally think of as US web sites but that are routed through the US."
Bradwell explained that the Open Rights Group is also concerned that the UK government could be influenced if US lawmakers decide to pass SOPA.
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