Don Moore

COICA, The Big Brother Bill

In Internet, Politics on October 19, 2010 at 2:48 AM

Every so often (approximately once a week or so) a piece of legislation is written that’s so mind-blowingly authoritarian that you wonder how exactly a congressperson could have enough nerve to introduce it on the floor of the Senate. The “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) is one of those pieces of legislation. Proposed by ssenators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orin Hatch (R-UT), COICA would give the US government the authority to shut down any sites deemed to be dedicated to illegal file sharing.

The bill itself wouldn’t be a new law, so much as an addition to an old one, Chapter 113 of Title 18 in the US Code. A relatively small addendum, with major consequences. The scariest part of the bill? The fact that the the law, if passed, would apply to websites outside of US jurisdiction.

A bill like this raises a lot of red flags. Banning a site because of its content–even when said content might be perfectly legal in the country where the site resides–amounts to censorship. And once the censorship floodgates are opened, they can be extremely hard to close again. Which is why all internet users, not just those who download, should hope this bill never sees the light of day.

Read the full law at


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