The controversial PROTECT IP Act unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today. When the PROTECT IP Act becomes law U.S. authorities and copyright holders will have the power to seize domains, block websites and censor search engines to prevent copyright infringements. Introduced just two weeks ago, the bill now heads over to the Senate for further consideration and another vote.
The U.S. Government continues to back legislation that opens the door to unprecedented Internet censorship.
Two weeks ago a group of U.S. senators proposed legislation to make it easier to crack down on so-called rogue websites, and today the Senate’s Judicial Committee unanimously approved the bill.
When the PROTECT IP Act becomes law the authorities can legitimately seize any domain name they deem to be facilitating copyright infringement. All that’s required to do so is a preliminary order from the court. But that’s just the start, the bill in fact provides a broad range of censorship tools.
In case a domain is not registered or controlled by a U.S. company, the authorities can also order search engines to remove the website from its search results, order ISPs to block the website, and order ad-networks and payment processors to stop providing services to the website in question.
Backers of the bill argue that the PROTECT IP Act is needed as an extension of the already controversial domain seizures. As reported previously, it is now relatively easy for a seized website to continue operating under a new non-US based domain name.
Not everyone agrees with this stance. Yesterday several Internet giants including Google, Yahoo, eBay and American Express asked the Senate Committee not to adopt the bill, warning it would “undoubtedly inhibit innovation and economic growth.”
However, the concerns raised by the companies did not affect the vote today.
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