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An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the Senate Judiciary Committee

By Peter Eckersley
Published on 2010-09-28, on the EFF blog.

(Update: we've added a few engineers who asked to sign on right as the letter was going out; the final count is 96 signatures)

Today, 87 prominent Internet engineers sent a joint letter the US Senate Judiciary Committee, declaring their opposition to the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" (COICA). The text of the letter is below.

Readers are encouraged to themselves write the Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to reject this bill.

We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We're just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.

We are writing to oppose the Committee's proposed new Internet censorship and copyright bill. If enacted, this legislation will risk fragmenting the Internet's global domain name system (DNS), create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. In exchange for this, the bill will introduce censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties' ability to communicate.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but this bill will be particularly egregious in that regard because it causes entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under this bill. These problems will be enough to ensure that alternative name-lookup infrastructures will come into widespread use, outside the control of US service providers but easily used by American citizens. Errors and divergences will appear between these new services and the current global DNS, and contradictory addresses will confuse browsers and frustrate the people using them. These problems will be widespread and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government.

The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open Internet, both domestically and abroad. We can't have a free and open Internet without a global domain name system that sits above the political concerns and objectives of any one government or industry. To date, the leading role the US
has played in this infrastructure has been fairly uncontroversial because America is seen as a trustworthy arbiter and a neutral bastion of free expression. If the US suddenly begins to use its central position in the DNS for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.

Senators, we believe the Internet is too important and too valuable to be endangered in this way, and implore you to put this bill aside.

The letter is signed by the following:

  • David P. Reed, who played an important role in the development of TCP/IP and designed the UDP protocol that makes real-time applications like VOIP possible today; former Professor at MIT
  • Paul Vixie, author of BIND, the most widely-used DNS server software, and President of the Internet Systems Consortium
  • Jim Gettys, editor of the HTTP/1.1 protocol standards, which we use to do everything on the Web.
  • Bill Jennings, who was VP of Engineering at Cisco for 10 years and responsible for building much of the hardware and embedded software for Cisco's core router products and high-end Ethernet switches.
  • Steve Bellovin, one of the originators of USENET; found and fixed numerous security flaws in DNS; Professor at Columbia.
  • Gene Spafford, who analyzed the first catastrophic Internet worm and made many subsequent contributions to computer security; Professor at Purdue.
  • Dan Kaminsky, renowned security researcher who in 2008 found and helped to fix a grave security vulnerability in the entire planet's DNS systems.
  • David Ulevitch, CEO of OpenDNS, which offers alternative DNS services for enhanced security.
  • John Vittal, Created the first full email client and the email standards.
  • Esther Dyson, chairman, EDventure Holdings; founding chairman, ICANN; former chairman, EFF; active investor in many start-ups that support commerce, news and advertising on the Internet; director, Sunlight Foundation
  • Brian Pinkerton, Founder of WebCrawler, the first big Internet search engine.
  • Dr. Craig Partridge, Architect of how email is routed through the Internet, and designed the world's fastest router in the mid 1990s.
  • David J. Farber, helped to conceive and organize the major American research networks CSNET, NSFNet, and NREN; former chief technologist at the FCC; Professor at Carnegie Mellon; EFF board member.
  • John Gilmore, co-designed BOOTP (RFC 951), which became DHCP, the way you get an IP address when you plug into an Ethernet or get on a WiFi access point. Current EFF board member.
  • Karl Auerbach, Former North American publicly elected member of the Board of Directors of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
  • Paul Timmins, designed and runs the multi-state network of a medium sized telephone and internet company in the Midwest.
  • Lou Katz, I was the founder and first President of the Usenix Association, which published much of the academic research about the Internet, opening networking to commercial and other entities.
  • Walt Daniels, IBM’s contributor to MIME, the mechanism used to add attachments to emails.
  • Gordon E. Peterson II, designer and implementer of the first commercially available LAN system, and member of the Anti-Spam Research Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
  • John Adams, operations engineer at Twitter, signing as a private citizen
  • Alex Rubenstein, founder of Net Access Corporation. We are an Internet Service Provider for nearly 15 years, and I have served on the ARIN AC.
  • Roland Alden, Originator of the vCard interchange standard; builder of Internet infrastructure in several developing countries.
  • Lyndon Nerenberg, Author/inventor of RFC3516 IMAP BINARY and contributor to the core IMAP protocol and extension.
  • James Hiebert, I performed early experiments using TCP Anycast to track routing instability in Border Gateway Protocol.
  • Dr. Richard Clayton, designer of Turnpike, widely used Windows-based Internet access suite. Prominent Computer Security researcher at Cambridge University.
  • Brandon Ross, designed the networks of MindSpring and NetRail.
  • James Ausman, helped build the first commercial web site and worked on the Apache web server that runs two-thirds of the Web.
  • Michael Laufer, worked on the different networks they dealt with including the Milnet, other US Govt nets, and regional (NSF) nets that became the basis of the Internet. Also designed, built, and deployed the first commercial VPN infrastructure (I think) as well as dial up nets that were part of AOL and many other things.
  • Janet Plato, I worked for Advanced Network and Service from 1992 or so running the US Internet core before it went public, and then doing dial engineering until we were acquired by UUNet. While at UUnet I worked in EMEA Engineering where I helped engineer their European STM16 backbone.
  • Thomas Hutton, I was one of the original architects of CERFnet - one of the original NFSnet regional networks that was later purchased by AT&T. In addition, I am currently chair of the CENIC HPR (High Performance Research) technical committee. This body directs CENIC in their managment and evolution of Calren2, the California research and education network.
  • Phil Lapsley, co-author of the Internet Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), RFC 977, and developer of the NNTP reference implementation in 1986 ... still in use today almost 25 years later.
  • Stephen Wolff. While at NSF I nurtured, led, and funded the NSFNET from its infancy until by 1994 I had privatized, commercialized, and decommissioned the NSFNET Backbone; these actions stimulated the commercial activity that led to the Internet of today.
  • Bob Schulman , worked on University of Illinois’ ANTS system in the Center for Advanced Computation in 1976 when ANTS connected a few hosts to the ARPAnet.
  • Noel D. Humphreys, As a lawyer I worked on the American Bar Association committee that drafted guidelines for use of public key encryption infrastructure in the early days of the internet.
  • Ramaswamy P. Aditya, I built various networks and web/mail content and application hosting providers including AS10368 (DNAI) which is now part of AS6079 (RCN), which I did network engineering and peering for, and then I did network engineering for AS25 (UC Berkeley), followed and now I do network engineering for AS177-179 and others (UMich).
  • Haudy Kazemi, Implemented Internet connections (from the physical lines, firewalls, and routers to configuring DNS and setting up Internet-facing servers) to join several companies to the Internet and enable them to provide digital services to others.
  • Mike Meyer, I helped debug the NNTP software in the 80s, and desktop web browsers and servers in the 90s.
  • Richard S. Kulawiec, 30 years designing/operating academic/commercial/ISP systems and networks.
  • Michael Alexander, I have been involved with networking since before the Internet existed. Among other things I was part of the team that connected the MTS mainframe at Michigan to the Merit Network. I was also involved in some of the early work on Email with Mailnet at MIT and wrote network drivers for IP over ISDN for Macintosh computers.
  • Gordon Cook, I led the OTA study between 1990 and 1992 and since April 1992 have been self employed as editor publisher of the cook report.
  • Thomas Donnelly, I help support the infrastructure for the world’s most widely used web server control panel.
  • Peter Rubenstein, I helped design and run the ISP transit backbone of AOL, the ATDN.
  • Owen DeLong, I am an elected member of the ARIN Advisory Council. I am the resource holder of record on a number of domains. I have been active on the internet for more than 20 years. I was involved in getting some of the first internet connections into primary and secondary schools before commercial providers like AT&T started sponsoring events like Net-Day.
  • Erik Fair, co-author, RFC 1627, RFC 977, former
  • Tony Rall, I was involved in providing Internet access to the IBM corporation - from the late 80s until last year. I worked within the company to ensure that Internet access was as "open" and transparent as possible.
  • Bret Clark, Spectra Access. We are New Hampshire's largest wireless Internet service providers and have built a large footprint of Internet Access for businesses in New Hampshire.
  • Paul Fleming, Run as33182 as a large hosting provider (5gbps+). develop monitoring software suite.
  • David M. Kristol, Co-author, RFCs 2109, 2965 ("HTTP State Management") Contributor, RFC 2616 ("Hypertext Transfer Protocol")
  • Anthony G. Lauck, I helped design and standardize routing protocols and local area network protocols and served on the Internet Architecture Board.
  • Judith Axler Turner, I started the first NSF-approved commercial service on the Internet, the Chronicle of Higher Education's job ads, in 1993.
  • Jason Novinger , I was the Network Administrator for Lawrence Freenet, a small wireless ISP in Lawrence, KS.
  • Dustin Jurman, I am the CEO of Rapid Systems Corporation a Network Service Provider, and Systems builder responsible for 60 Million of NOFA funding.
  • Blake Pfankuch, Over the years I have implemented thousands if not tens of thousands of webservers, DNS servers and supporting infrastructure.
  • Dave Shambley, retired engineer (EE -rf-wireless- computers) and active in the design of web site and associated graphics.
  • Stefan Schmidt, I had sole technical responsibility for running all of the / AS5430 DNS Infrastructure with roughly 120.000 Domains and approximately 1.5 million DSL subscribers for the last 9 years and have been actively involved in the development of the PowerDNS authoritative and recursive DNS Servers for the last 4 years.
  • Dave Skinner, I was an early provider of net connectivity in central Oregon. Currently I provide hosting services.
  • Richard Hartmann, Backbone manager and project manager at Globalways AG, a German ISP.
  • Curtis Maurand, founder of a small internet company in Maine in 1994. started delivering low cost broadband to municipalities and businesses before acquired by Time-Warner.
  • James DeLeskie, internetMCI Sr. Network Engineer, Teleglobe Principal Network Architect
  • Bernie Cosell, I was a member of the team at BBN that wrote the code for the original ARPAnet IMP. I also did a big chunk of the redesign of the TELNET protocol [addding DO/DONT/WILL/WONT].
  • Eric Brunner-Williams, I contributed to rfc1122 and 1123, and co-authored rfc2629, Domain Name System (DNS) IANA Considerations, and authored the "sponsored registry" proposal, implemented as .aero, .coop and .museum, and assisted with .cat, authored the privacy policy for HTTP cookies, and contribute to both the IETF and to ICANN.
  • Nathan Eisenberg, Atlas Networks Senior System Administrator, manager of 25K sq. ft. of data centers which provide services to Starbucks, Oracle, and local state
  • Jon Loeliger, I have implemented OSPF, one of the main routing protocols used to determine IP packet delivery. At other companies, I have helped design and build the actual computers used to implement core routers or storage delivery systems. At another company, we installed network services (T-1 lines and ISP service) into Hotels and Airports across the country.
  • Tim Rutherford, managed DNS (amongst other duties) for an C4.NET since 1997.
  • Ron Lachman , I am co-founder of Ultra DNS. I am co-founder of Sandpiper networks (arguably, inventor of the CDN) I am "namesake" founder of Lachman TCP/IP (millions of copies of TCP on Unix System V and many other other platforms) Joint developer of NFS along with Sun MicroSystems.
  • Jeromie Reeves, Network Administrator & Consultant. I have a small couple hundred user Wireless ISP and work with or have stakes in many other networks.
  • Alia Atlas, I designed software in a core router (Avici) and have various RFCs around resiliency, MPLS, and ICMP.
  • Marco Coelho, As the owner of Argon Technologies Inc., a company that has been in the business of providing Internet service for the past 13 years.
  • David J. Bowie, intimately involved in deployment and maintenance of the Arpanet as it evolved from 16 sites to what it is today.
  • Scott Rodgers, I have been an ISP on Cape Cod Massachusetts for 17 years and I agree that this bill is poison.
  • William Schultz, for the past 10 years I've worked on hundreds of networks around the US and have worked for a major voice and data carrier. I do not agree with Internet censorship in any degree, at all.
  • Rebecca Hargrave Malamud, helped advance many large-scale Internet projects, and have been working the web since its invention.
  • Kelly J. Kane - Shared web hosting network operator. Tom DeReggi, 15yr ISP/WISP veteran, RapidDSL. Doug Moeller, Chief Technical Officer, Autonet Mobile, Inc.
  • David Boyes, Operations Coordinator, SESQUInet, First mainframe web server, First Internet tools for VM/CMS, Caretaker, NSS1, Caretaker ENSS3, Author, Chronos Appt Management Protocol, Broadcast operator, IETF telepresence, IETF 28/29
  • Jim Warren, I was one of Vint Cerf’s grad students and worked for a bit on the early protocols for the old ARPAnet ... back before it became the DARPAnet
  • Christopher Nielsen, I have worked for several internet startups, building everything from email and usenet infrastructure to large-scale clusters. I am currently a Sr. Operations Engineer for a product and shopping search engine startup.
  • David Barrett, Founder and CEO of Expensify, former engineering manager for Akamai. I helped build Red Swoosh, which delivers large files for legitimate content owners, and was acquired by Akamai, which hosts 20% of the internet by powering the world's top 20,000 websites.
  • David Hiers, I have designed dozens of Internet edge networks, several transit networks, and currently operate a VOIP infrastructure for 20,000 business subscribers.
  • Jay Reitz, Co-founder and VP of Engineering of, the 60th largest website in the US with 14M monthly US visitors.
  • Peter H. Schmidt, I co-founded the company (Midnight Networks) that created the protocol test software (ANVL) that ensured routers from all vendors could actually interoperate to implement the Internet.
  • Harold Sinclair, design, build, and operate DNS, Mail, and Application platforms on the Internet.
  • John Todd, I invented and operate a DNS-based telephony directory "" which uses the DNS to replace telephone numbers.
  • Christopher Gerstorff, technician for a wireless broadband internet provider, Rapid Systems, Inc.
  • Robert Rodgers, Engineer at Juniper and Cisco. Worked on routers and mobile systems.
  • Illene Jones, I have had a part in creating the software that runs on the servers.
  • Brandon Applegate, I have worked in the ISP sector since the mid-1990s as a network engineer.
  • Leslie Carr, Craigslist Network Engineer
  • Doug Dodds, wrote several pieces of software for ARPANet in the 1970s, including BBN TENEX User Telnet and the HERMES email system.
  • Jamie Rishaw, Formerly, network architect to Big-10 Universities, the Dalai Lama, NFL and Playboy. Currently active in DNS Security steering and planning, and Global Network Operations.
  • Jeff Hodges, Protocol Architect: LDAPv3, SAML, Liberty Alliance ID-FF ID-WSF
  • Bob Hingen, worked at BBN and helped build the Arpanet and early Internet. I have been very active in the IETF and am the co-inventor of IPv6.
  • David M. Miller, CTO / Exec VP for DNS Made Easy (largest IP Anycast Managed Enterprise DNS Provider in the world by number of domain names served).
  • Ben Kamen, started an Atari based BBS in 1982 and has worked with networks ever since.
  • Brian Lloyd, key contributor to the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) used by with modems to connect to the Internet; co-wrote the California Department of Education's, K-12 Network Technology Planning Guide in the early 1990s
  • Steven Back, network administrator for many domain names related to medical studies
  • Brad Templeton, founder of ClariNet Communications, the world's first ".com" company and the net's first online newspaper; EFF board member.

Subsequent signatories:

  • Edward Henigin, CTO of (San Antonio's first ISP founded in 1994), Data Foundry (Data Center outsourcing), Giganews (#1 ranked Usenet provider) and Golden Frog (Encryption service).

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