Understanding the Dangers of COICA to Internet Freedom and Following the Campaign Cash
The Internet censorship bill that unanimously sailed out of the Senate Judiciary this week, called COICA, Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, appears well positioned to pass. This bill is very problematic on many levels, starting with the fact that the bill has nothing whatsoever to do with copyright infringement and counterfeiting and everything to do with giving the government control of the Internet.
As noted by Stephen Lendman in an opednews.com piece titled “New Internet Censorship Bill Introduced” laws already exist to effectively handle copyright infringements and counterfeiting. Lendman states “The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) “already gives copyright owners legal tools to remove infringing material piece-by-piece”. It’s also important to note that opednews.com is definitely progressive/liberal and its concerns with the wholesale slashing of the first amendment as well as a massive effort to grant the government powers over the Internet is admirable.
Lendman heavily quoted from an Electronic Frontier Foundation article written by Richard Esguerra:
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Richard Esguerra:
If enacted, this bill lets the Attorney General and Justice Department "break the Internet one domain at a time - by requiring domain registrars/registries, ISPs, DNS providers, and others to block Internet users from reaching certain websites."
Two online blacklists will be created:
-- one for web sites the Attorney General may censor or block, and
-- most disturbing, domain names the Justice Department decides (without judicial review) are "dedicated to infringing activities."
The bill doesn't mandate, but "strongly suggests" that second category domains be blocked "as well as providing legal immunity for Internet intermediaries and DNS operators" that do it willingly at the behest of authorities….
..Like other 2009 and 2010 bills, COICA "is a censorship bill that runs roughshod over freedom of speech on the Internet,"…
… Like many other pre and post-9/11 bills, COICA is police state legislation….
I recommend reading the entire Lendman article here:
As a first amendment advocate who lacks technological skills, this topic must be pursued, debated and explained by liberty activists with the expertise and knowledge that I personally lack.
In any event, I consider the takeover of the Internet by the government to be a horrid Nazi styled initiative that will severely impair the ability of liberty activists everywhere to share and post vitally important information that is critical to a free and open society. Tom Berners over at techdirt.com calls COICA “an effort to censor the internet without due process.” (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100927/10290611182/tim-berners-lee-comes-out-against-coica-censorship-bill-shouldn-t-you.shtml)
Moreover, we need to address the issue of special interest funding and how Congress Critters are bought and paid for.
Following the Money
Lobbyists, PAC’s, and industries buy Congress Critters by funding committee members and that’s where big money is spent. Once a bill sails out of a committee, then it’s on to the House and Senate floor for a full floor vote and if the votes come up short, more money flows from special interests to buy the needed votes for passage. Before a bill is voted on, members of Congress already know the vote results because they are quietly counted before recorded vote is taken.
Opensecrets.org tracks the money in politics in a variety of ways, including by industry, PAC’s, lobbyists. The 19 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who unanimously voted COICA out of committee got campaign cash from certain industries and interests. The figures quoted below include all money that was raised by the Campaign Committee and the Leadership PAC’s and relate to the categories of communications/electronics and lawyers/lobbyists from 2006-2010.
Senator Communications/Electronics Lawyers/Lobbyists
Patrick Leahy $981,000 $1,300,000
Herb Kohl (insignificant)
Jeff Sessions 251,000 627,000
Dianne Feinstein 661,000 901,800
Orrin Hatch 596,000 853,000
Russ Feingold 523,000 1,000,000
Chuck Grassley 372,000 678,000
Arlen Specter 856,000 2,700,000
Jon Kyl 605,000 1,100,000
Chuck Schumer 1,000 2,500,000
Lindsey Graham 278,000 1,600,000
Dick Durbin 605,000 3,000,000
John Cornyn 597,000 1,600,000
Benjamin Cardin 199,000 1,200,000
Tom Coburn 108,000 246,000
Sheldon Whitehouse 454,000 1,300,000
Amy Klobuchar 437,000 1,500,000
Al Franken 1,700,000 1,400,000
Chris Coons 21 232,000
Note: The Communications/Electronics industry includes: computers/internet, computer software, printing & publishing, books, magazines, newspapers, telecom services and equipment, telephone utilities, TV/movies/music, cable & satellite TV production & distribution, commercial TV and radio stations, motion picture production and distribution, recorded music & music production, TV production and distribution. Lawyers/Lobbying includes lawyers & law firms, lobbyists. See how Open Secrets organizes industries: http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/list.php.
Below are links to Open Secrets pages on the 19 Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee showing the source of campaign and lobbying cash.