Lawmakers in the House have introduced a controversial new measure aimed at stopping online copyright infringement.
The Stop Online Piracy Act, like a companion measure pending in the Senate, would enable law enforcement officials to obtain orders requiring Internet service providers to stop sending traffic to domain names that host pirated material.
The bill also would allow the government, as well as content owners, to seek orders against online ad networks and other outside companies that do business with so-called “rogue” sites. The House bill was introduced by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.).
Entertainment companies say the measure is needed to combat online piracy, particularly by sites based in other countries. “This legislation is a first step toward a brighter day when these rogue offshore Wb sites can no longer duck accountability under U.S. laws,” Cary Sherman, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, said in a statement.
But digital rights groups say the law is too broad. "There is no need for a bill this sweeping and this draconian,” Public Knowledge stated.
The Center for Democracy & Technology adds that the bill would impose new policing obligations on Internet service providers. “The bill represents a serious threat to online innovation and to legitimate online communications tools,” the group says.
A group of Internet engineers have previously said that domain-name filtering "would be minimally effective and would present technical challenges that could frustrate important security initiatives."