Internet Censorship Bill Delayed for Now

Not only did the bill get modified in response to public criticism, but EFF is spreading the news that a vote on the bill has been delayed, possibly until the mid-term elections. Better news, of course, would be that the bill is dead but at least there is more time for discussion leading either to that outcome or stripping out all problematic sections of the bill.

Speaking of, I wanted to point you over to the comments on my last post about COICA. Laroquod identified an aspect of the bill I had overlooked. The original draft would have required publishing by the Attorney General of the list of sites to be blocked by DNS registrars and ISPs. In the new draft, the “shall” has been changed to a “may”. As Laroquod notes, in the absence of a hard requirement, the Justice Department is unlikely to share the list. This means that one of the most troubling aspects of the bill, the one that overlaps with outright internet censorship regimes, has been strengthened in amongst the relaxing of constraints on ISPs and registrars.

If you want an indication of the fight that is yet to come, take a look at this troubling post from Mike Masnick at Techdirt indicating the White House is already pursuing a plan B.

That is, while most folks have been focused on COICA, the White House’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IP Czar) Victoria Espinel has apparently been holding meetings with ISPs, registrars, payment processors and others to get them to agree to voluntarily do what COICA would mandate. While the meeting is carefully focused on stopping websites that sell gray market pharmaceuticals, if registrars start agreeing to censoring websites at the behest of the government, it’s as if we’re halfway to a COICA-style censorship regime already. ICANN, who manages the internet domain name system was asked to attend the meeting, but felt that it “was not appropriate to attend” such a meeting.

Admittedly, the targeting of Espinel’s discussions is gray market online pharmacies, not pirate sites. As Masnick notes though it opens the door for others, like big content, to ask the IP enforcement czar for similar consideration.

Victory: Internet Censorship Bill is Delayed, For Now, EFF

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