Proposed Law Would Allow Justice Department to Shut Down Websites
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will consider action today on a bill entitled Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, ostensibly designed to allow the Justice Department to combat copyright infringement. “The legislation authorizes the Justice Department to file a court order against the domain name and seek an order from the court stating that the domain name is being used to access a website that is engaging in illegal activities,” reports TechNewsDaily.
In addition, the bill contains provisions to block sites with domain names and TLDs (top-level domains) that are maintained by overseas companies, which are immune to US laws.
The bipartisan legislation “amounts to the Holy Grail of intellectual-property enforcement,” writes David Kravets for Wired. “Websites eligible for Justice Department targeting – if the measure is approved – must be ‘dedicated to infringing activities,’ according to the text’s language. A site can be ‘subject to civil forfeiture’ if it’s ‘primarily designed’ as a pirate site with ‘no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use’ other than to distribute pirated or counterfeited wares,’” according to Kravets.
Congress and the Obama administration, however, have demonstrated antipathy toward the idea of a free and open internet regardless of copyright infringement. Earlier this year, Senator Joe Lieberman pushed the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, legislation designed to give Obama dictatorial power to shut down the internet under the rubric of national security.
“Senators pushing the bill rejected the claim that the bill was a ‘kill switch’ for the Internet, not by denying that Obama would be given the authority to shut down the Internet as part of this legislation, but by arguing that he already had the power to do so,” Paul Joseph Watson reported on June 25, 2010.
As Philip Giraldi notes, the government continues to invent excuses to intervene into the internet. All of these “arguments for intervention are essentially themselves fraudulent and are in reality being exploited by those who favor big government and state control,” writes Giraldi. “The real reason for controlling the internet is to restrict access to information, something every government seeks to do.”
In July, a hosting company pulled the plug on Blogetery, a blog website, after the FBI told the hosting service that a blog on the site had posted bomb-making information. “Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server,” CNet News reported on July 19.
“The extreme response implies a possible presumed terrorist connection, but it is important to note that no one was charged with any actual offense, revealing that the government can close down sites based only on suspicion,” writes Giraldi.