EFF: MasterCard’s Support for COICA Threatens Internet

Jan 27, 2011 1:45 PM PST
SAN FRANCISCO — The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week denounced MasterCard’s support for the passage of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), saying the legislation enlists credit card companies as censors.

COICA would require credit card company to suspend its services to certain websites considered within the bill’s parameters to be threats for copyright infringement.

The main mechanism of the bill is to interfere with the Internet's domain name system and create a blacklist of censored domains. It would allow the Justice Department to ask the court to place any website on the blacklist if infringement is "central" to the purpose of the site.

"If this bill passes, the list of targets could conceivably include hosting websites such as Dropbox, MediaFire and Rapidshare; MP3 blogs and mashup/remix music sites like SoundCloud, MashupTown and Hype Machine; and sites that discuss and make the controversial political and intellectual case for piracy, like pirate-party.us, p2pnet, InfoAnarchy, Slyck and ZeroPaid," the EFF says.

"Indeed, had this bill been passed five or 10 years ago, YouTube might not exist today. In other words, the collateral damage from this legislation would be enormous."

The EFF said this week that it is a troubling sign that MasterCard supports COICA.

"[I]f COICA becomes law, the Justice Department would have the power to order MasterCard to stop processing payments to certain sites," the EFF said. "That's one reason we are worried about the effects of COICA: it offers a new process for shutting down websites deemed 'bad sites' without appropriate safeguards to prevent the takedown of noninfringing content, including political and other speech."

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