Internet entrepreneurs are in a panic over a fast-tracking Senate bill they say will censor the Web, stifle Silicon Valley startups, damage the United States’ credibility on free speech and ultimately trigger the creation of an alternate-universe Internet.
The West Coast engineers say they were blindsided last Monday when the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act was introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday, has a bipartisan roster of co-sponsors who say it will be a tool for stopping the worst offenders in the world of online piracy.
The bill would give the attorney general new powers to shut down websites deemed dedicated to counterfeit material — by going through the courts and by encouraging service providers to go after sites the Justice Department puts on a public blacklist.
According to the bill, a website would have to be “dedicated to infringing activities” to trigger the enforcement.