The “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) bill known as S. 3804 is expected to be fast tracked straight through a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that is expected to pass the bill later this week.
The new legislation is aimed at copyright infringement and file sharing-related issues, but it could also be quickly abused to limit free speech — and other legal experts are concerned it’s unlikely the committee will have ample time to look into the matter closely before the bill is voted on.
One of the most worriesome parts of the bill would give the US Attorney General the authoriity to create a blacklist of websites that ISP’s would be forced to block. This would essentially censor the internet.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and other groups have already stepped forward to criticize the new bill. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is increasingly concerned that S. 3804 could have an impact on Internet architecture, foreign policy and current copyright issues wouldn’t be resolved.
“In 2010, if there’s anything we’ve learned about efforts to rewrite copyright law to target ‘piracy’ online, it’s that they are likely to have unintended consequences,” the EFF said in a statement regarding S. 3804.
The CEA and at least six other organizations want U.S. senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to evaluate the “numerous legal, political and technical issues” in the bill that could open up the door to future abuse.
Pres. Obama’s administration already said it wants new legislation in place to help federal law enforcement crack down on criminals using the Internet to communicate. Privacy rights groups immediately criticized the new legislation, saying the federal government just wants to have safeguards in place so it can easily snoop on users.
I’m even more disappointed with Pres. Obama and Washington lawmakers in general — instead of embracing the Internet and opening it up, the Obama administration recently slammed current copyright reform issues.
The RIAA and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) also spend millions lobbying Washington lawmakers to help launch crackdowns and create new legislation.