White House to censor net, anyway it can
While there’s been increasing attention paid to the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA), the proposed law that would allow the government to require ISPs and registrars to block access to websites deemed to be “dedicated to infringing activities,” it looks like the White House (which we had thought was against censoring the internet) appears to be working on a backup plan in case COICA doesn’t pass.
On top of that, it seems out of line for the US government to be involved in pressuring these companies, whether they’re ISPs, domain registrars, payment processors or ICANN itself, to “voluntarily” block websites without a trial or due process. Yes, I can recognize that there can be legitimate health concerns with some of these websites, but those are better dealt with elsewhere. If a company is selling fake or harmful drugs, then laws within that country should be able to deal with it. If there are concerns about such drugs getting across the border, then it seems like a matter for border control. Asking internet companies to act as de facto “voluntary” censors seems like a big step too far.
And, of course, if it starts with such gray market pharmacies, you can only imagine how long it will take until the RIAA/MPAA/etc. come calling for the same sort of “voluntary cooperation” from the same companies for sites “dedicated to infringing activities,” potentially killing off all sorts of innovation, before the market has a chance to adapt. When world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and tons of other internet luminaries have come out against COICA, shouldn’t the White House be a bit more careful before trying to get various internet players to voluntarily do the same thing with even less due process?</em>
Due process? We haven’t had due process since 9/11.