Did you catch that part? They don’t have to actually have proof that your website has broken a law – They’ll be able to complete unplug you from the Internet based upon a vague and arbitrary standard of evidence.
If the power to shut down a website based on an assumption of guilt is given to the Attorney General, this will be a death sentence to any business faced with this punishment, whether they are guilty of a crime or not. We all agree that copyright infringement is illegal and people should not be doing it, but creating open ended laws such as this do nothing but chip away at our freedoms.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would give the Attorney General the right to shut down websites with a court order if copyright infringement is deemed “central to the activity” of the site — regardless if the website has actually committed a crime. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) is among the most draconian laws ever considered to combat digital piracy, and contains what some have called the “nuclear option,” which would essentially allow the Attorney General to turn suspected websites “off.”
Many people opposed to the bill agree in principle with its aims: Illegal music piracy is, well, illegal, and should be stopped. Musicians, artists and content creators should be compensated for their work. But the law’s critics do not believe that giving the federal government the right to shut down websites at will based upon a vague and arbitrary standard of evidence, even if no law-breaking has been proved, is a particularly good idea. COICA must still be approved by the full House and Senate before becoming law. A vote is unlikely before the new year.