Senate panel OKs ‘Internet censorship’ bill

WASHINGTON — The US Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Thursday that would give US law enforcement more tools to crack down on websites abroad engaged in piracy of movies, television shows and music.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which has the support of the entertainment industry but has been strongly criticized by digital rights and other groups, was approved by a vote of 19-0.

In addition to the music, movie and TV industries, the bill has received the backing of newspapers, authors and publishers but it has been condemned by the the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) as an “Internet censorship” bill.

“Blacklisting entire sites out of the domain name system,” the group said, is a “reckless scheme that will undermine global Internet infrastructure and censor legitimate online speech.”

The bill gives the Justice Department an expedited process for cracking down on websites engaged in piracy or the sale of counterfeit goods including having courts issue shutdown orders against domains based outside the United States.

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