The Senate this week will again take up S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The bill allows the US Attorney General to target “Internet sites dedicated to infringing activities” both inside and outside the country, obtaining a court-ordered injunction against them if they have “no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than” sharing copyrighted files without authorization.
A group of senators on Monday filed legislation that would allow the Justice Department to shut down Internet sites that violate the law.
As proposed, COICA can blacklist, control or close down thousands of watchdog websites, bloggers, even You Tube for engaging in “infringing activities.” with no due process or legal oversight. This law would empower the Attorney General to initiate blacklisting activities and prevent access to infringing sites. As many on Usenet newsgroups agreee, it is a dangerous and ill defined piece of legislation that at the very least should be publicized and thoroughly discussed in the open.
This means that if one of the influential copyright barons discovers something they don’t like on the Internet they can get the U.S. government to shut down entire websites. They can do this even if people aren’t accessing the copyrighted material.
Critics of the bill say it is a favor for the movie and recording industries, such as the MPAA which is fully endorsing this bill. They fear (rightfully) that it would be a step towards massive amounts of unchecked and unjustifiable censorship.
What this bill essentially means is the United States government can decide what is best suitable for the Internet and what kind of content to allow on it. This bill is not only life changing for Americans but also for anyone who uses the Internet around the world. When you glide over the mind-numbingly boring wording of the bill, its substance revolves around the fact that, if passed, it will allow the United States government to take websites off the Internet and not just censor them here in U.S.
The bill was delayed in September because of outraged activist groups; and now it has reared its ugly head again and it could be positioned to be passed quickly through the lame-duck session of congress.
Given the potential for abuse by a DOJ stocked with entertainment industry lawyers, groups like the EFF argued the bill was a dangerous path toward censorship and managed to get the effort shelved, though apparently the entertainment industry has brought the bill back.
This whole bill not only confronts legal issues, but may include a hidden motive of moral policing and suppression of public freedom – just like the Chinese and Iranians we so blatantly ridicule.
A petition has been created to combat the bill and prevent it from passing. You can join and sign the petition HERE