Will the Justice Department Be Authorized to Shut Down Internet Sites?: "
On September 20th, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation — S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act — that seeks to give the Department of Justice the power to shut down websites anywhere in the world that are found to infringe on intellectual property rights. This would be accomplished by ordering U.S. domain registrars and registries to stop resolving infringing sites’ domain names. While this bill has the noble-sounding goal of preventing online piracy, handing the federal government authority over the Internet would set a troubling precedent that would imperil Internet freedom in America and across the world.
One disquieting issue is the lack of any requirement that these sites be found to violate the laws of the countries from where they operate. In fact, under this bill sites operating perfectly legally under the laws of their own nations could be shut down by the U.S. Justice Department.
America has been a pretty fair steward of critical internet infrastructure up until now, but we only deserve it as long as we respect the responsibility that power gives us. Pushing edicts across the planet is a lousy way to do that, especially over something as idiotic as copyright infringement.