U.S. Senator Ron Wyden vowed yesterday to take steps to block the controversial bill that would let the government effectively block access from the U.S. to sites involved in copyright infringement.
The Combating Online Infringements And Counterfeits Act (COICA) would let the Attorney General petition the courts to blacklist any website on which copyright infringement was a ‘central’ activity. Domain servers operating in the U.S. would be required to stop handling requests for sites on the blacklist.
COICA has broad support from both parties, and breezed through the Senate Judiciary Committee 19-0. But with just a few days left in the legislative session, one Senator can put up enough procedure hurdles to prevent a vote before 2011, at which point the bill will have to be resubmitted.
The bill has drawn fire from academics and free speech advocates on the grounds that the power it grants the government could easily be used to censor the Internet. Wyden likened giving such broad authority to the Attorney General to stop copyright infringement to “using a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile.”