Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sen. Leahy's plan to dismantle the Internet on hold for recess

The bill is S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, or COICA. (Full text.) It has 16 co-sponsors, including a few Republicans.

Commentary and comments at Techdirt, PC Mag, Fox News, ZDnet (Australia), EFF, and elsewhere.

From the Fox News story:

Internet advocates warn the legislation would open a door for a handful of people in the federal government to wantonly power off entire websites that may be operating legally under current law. Though senators suggest the bill would save jobs by cracking down on piracy, critics say it will hurt the economy by threatening fledgling companies whenever copyrighted material shows up on their sites. "If this bill had been law five or 10 years ago, there's a good chance that YouTube would no longer be around," Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told FoxNews.com.

Eckersley said the bill would mark a drastic departure from current law by allowing the government not just to strip copyrighted material off an offending website, but to order the shutdown of a domain name altogether.

Eighty-seven engineers who played a role in the creation of the Internet have sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee urging it to sideline the 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," they wrote. "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."
They can't keep their grubby paws off.

Leahy has been in office far too long. All the political crystal gazers seem to think that there's no chance he will lose this election. I'll be hoping for Len Britton to surprise them on election night. It's a shame that the Republican Party is not supporting its own candidate.

Update: David Post at The Volokh Conspiracy says that COICA is "a truly awful bill."

No comments: