Senator Patrick Leahy just introduced the ‘Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act’ (COICA). As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes in their press release, this is an egregious power grab by the government. This bill would allow state Attorney Generals to arbitrarily designate entire internet domains as “infringing” and require domain registrars/registries, ISPs, DNS providers, and others to block Internet users from reaching those domains. Worse, the bill allows the US Justice Department to create its own blacklist with even more intrusive restrictions and fear-inducing penalties, all without any judicial review, much less an actual conviction that something illegal really happened.

The thinly veiled excuse of “copyright protection” ignores the massive potential for abuse on the part of overzealous prosecutors and bureaucrats. It tramples on the First Amendment rights of other potential users of the domain, requiring not merely that the specific infringing content be taken down but that everything else on the site, all the blogs, images and any legitimate content be made inaccessible as well.

The US is supposed to be the leader in freedom. This bill sends a message to the rest of the world that we don’t really believe what we say – that censorship is acceptable. This is a very dangerous and patently unconstitutional bill.

Please take a minute to read EFF’s article. But more important, WRITE YOUR SENATOR opposing this bill.

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