Good intentions and a couple big problems.
Kevin Murphy spotted a new bill that, if passed in its current form, would give the U.S. government more powers to shut down domain names used for piracy and counterfeiting.
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act would make it easier for the government to shut down sites with pirated movies and music or selling counterfeit goods.
On the surface that doesn’t sound too bad. But there are a couple things that make me wary:
1. In addition to domains with a registrar or registry located in the U.S., the bill enables the government to go after domains in other countries and force them to be blocked in the U.S. (Interestingly, it says nothing of the location of the registrant.)
Why is this a problem? Well, what if Saudi Arabia suddenly passed a bill requiring sites about womens’ rights to be blocked? I suppose China and Iran already has similar rules though.
2. It’s a slippery slope. What exactly is promoting counterfeit goods? I can envision circumstances where this bill is twisted to go after legitimate domain names. In general I’m not a fan of slippery slope arguments. But if this passes, be aware that similar — and perhaps overreaching — bills could follow.