Reporters Without Borders joins other international NGOs and free speech experts in urging the U.S. Congress to abandon consideration of the proposed Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced into the Senate on 21 September. At the Center for Democracy & Technology’s initiative, nine organizations and experts, including Reporters Without Borders, have sent the attached letter to the senator.
COICA’s provisions include introducing a system of Internet filtering to protect copyright. Internet service providers would have to block websites on a blacklist controlled by the Attorney General’s office. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sites such as SoundCloud (a music remix site), MediaFire (a file hosting site) or even Slyck (where copyright issues are discussed) could be rendered inaccessible.
Even more disturbing is the fact that domain names blocked by the United States to comply with this domestic law would be rendered inaccessible throughout the world. In other words, the proposed censorship would extend well beyond the U.S. borders and would affect Internet users worldwide.
As the letter says, COICA stands in complete contradiction with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assertion in a speech on 21 January that the freedom to use the Internet is a fundamental human right and a priority of U.S. diplomacy. This law would help censors all over the world to justify their own Internet filtering procedures.
Many others have spoken out against COICA. They include Tim Berners-Lee, who has launched petition to block it, and 87 Internet pioneers who have sent an open letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, urging it to reject the bill.
Read the joint letter to Sen. Leahy: pdf