S. 3804, the Internet Blacklist bill

As a follow-on to this post about Obama law enforcement and security officials seeking sweeping changes to Internet-related devices (if you haven’t read that yet, you should) — comes this, from Jim in the comments.

It’s S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA; I almost want to say cloaca). It’s ostensibly designed as a sledge hammer against any site where counterfeit or copyrighted material are “central to the activity of the Internet site.” It bypasses take-down orders for specific infractions, and goes right to “your whole site is evil — banned.”

Targeted sites could be placed on a required-to-block list via a court order, or on a suggested-to-block list by the Attorney General. You read that right; the exec branch gets to unilaterally “suggest” which sites to block.

Can you see Comcast bucking the AG’s suggestions list? Heck, I can see Comcast paying (sorry, bribing; sorry, campaign-donating to) the party-in-power to get its own targets on that list. I can also see the White House political adviser directing (sorry, suggesting; sorry, whispering over cocktails) that the AG might remember there’s an election coming. There’s always an election coming, right?

They’re calling it the Internet Blacklist; they wouldn’t be wrong.

The sponsors of COICA are Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); now there’s a pair to conjure with. More information is here and here. The Chamber of Commerce loves this bill’s precious butt, as does Viacom. The Electronic Frontier Foundation hates it. ‘Nuff said?

Rumor is the vote will come soon, though the bill is still in committee; I can’t verify the schedule one way or the other.

Action opportunity — If you want to, you could google “petition stop coica” to see how many petitions you can sign. Or if you prefer to roll your own, you might start with Sheldon Whitehouse or Amy Klobuchar; they’re on the sponsors list. The rest of the Dem sponsors are either unknown to me (Herb Kohl-Wis, net worth roughly $200 million; and Ben Cardin-Md) or look like lost causes (for example, Chuck Shumer).


Update: Links added for Whitehouse and Klobuchar.

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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