The legislative branch of the US Government is about to discuss a bill that favors big media corporations. The bill would be a big win for corporate censorship advocates and grant the government increased power to censor the Internet.
The heavy hitters from the two-party dictatorship in American politics have joined up in an effort to mollify the media conglomerates. On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee will have a meeting to hear more about this wonderful bill that was introduced a week ago.
You can thank Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch for introducing and sponsoring the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). Right now the bill is in the first step of the legislative process.
COICA would create two blacklists of Internet domains. The first list would be seen to by the courts. Courts would be able to add web addresses to the list. The second would be controlled by the Attorney General.
Internet Service Providers and various other related businesses would be required by law to block all domains on the first list. They would also reportedly receive immunity and the government’s good favor for blocking domains on the second list.
The lists from the totalitarian law are for sites that are "dedicated to infringing activity." And it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone that "infringing activity" is defined very broadly.
That way anybody who steps on the wrong toes in Internet land will be dealt with.
That’s what this bill opens does, it increases the chance that people will be censored. According to the language in the bill, popular websites, even websites that generate lots of revenue, will be subject to censorship.
YouTube for example could potentially be a prime target for government censorship. Copyright giants like Viacom have made complaints about YouTube before.
They have argued that copyrighted material is the driving force behind YouTube’s popularity. YouTube is perfectly legal under U.S. law as long as YouTube takes down copyrighted material when they are notified of it.
If COICA passes, it will certainly be much easier for copyright baron Viacom to get YouTube shut down. The wording in the bill makes it so that Viacom doesn’t even have to prove that YouTube is doing anything illegal.
No, all they would have to do is convince a court that other people are using the site for copyright infringement. Then it could be censored.
If a court decided to rule against the copyright giant, no big deal for Viacom. The Department of Justice could just put the accused copyright violator on the second list. Then it could be blocked without a court order.
The second list wouldn’t require ISP’s and similar businesses to block sites on the list by law, but it would be in their best interest to abide by the powerful suggestions of the DOJ. Nobody wants to rub the feds the wrong way these days.
The proposed bill is in an early stage at this point. Where it goes from here is truly up to the people. You can help keep the bill from getting any further by signing an online petition to stop the Internet blacklist.