Remember that Internet blacklist bill we told you about a few days ago? More than 100,000 people have already signed our petition against it and Hollywood is feeling the heat! The bill was set for a vote in a supposedly gridlocked Congress just 10 short days after it was introduced, but the entertainment industry claims that our campaign is "paralyzing the legislative process." Apparently if you're Hollywood, the legislative process doesn't involve having regular people question your proposals.
Our work has already achieved results: in one big concession, we've heard from several Senate offices that provisions that let the Attorney General blacklist domain names without so much as talking to a judge are being removed. And we've indeed slowed down the legislative process -- instead of rushing the bill through this week, it's being held until after the election.
But there's still more to be done. The key parts of the bill remain intact, meaning that ISPs, advertisers, and others (everyone from Comcast to PayPal to Google AdSense) would be required to block web sites that haven't been found guilty of any crime.
As the Center for Democracy and Technology points out, this is an obvious violation of the First Amendment: in a recent memo on COICA:
it directs courts to impose "prior restraints" on speech, which are "the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights." Our Constitution strongly counsels against prior restraints that block access to speech, even if the speech might later be proven to be unlawful. The First Amendment teaches that speech should be pro-actively blocked only in the rarest of circumstances. This is especially true because the type of restraint imposed by S. 3804 - the total suspension or blocking of a site's domain name - would unavoidably block lawful content as well as infringing content. Even a site that is deemed to be "primarily designed" to offer infringing content under the billʼs vague definition is almost certain to also contain at least some non-infringing content, which is fully protected by the First Amendment.