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Concerns U.S. Domain Name Blocking Powers Could Be Abused

Published September 28, 2010

The USA's Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) has some concerned that it would give the U.S. government the power to globally block access to a domain anywhere, anytime and for a multitude of reasons.

The COICA legislation is reportedly designed to clamp down on online pirates; whether they are located in the USA or overseas, by forcing ISP's, domain name registrars and other online service providers to block access to specified domain names.

According to an article on TechWeek, as the core of the domain name system is located within the United States, any .com, .net or .org domain name could also be blocked at a global level by removing it from the 'master' domain name database. 

Whether or not ccTLD's such as a domain name could be affected is unclear, with some saying that a site on the blacklist would only be unavailable from the USA and others saying it's possible access could be limited from anywhere, which would include Australia; particularly if the site was hosted on U.S. servers.

David Segal, Democratic Rhode Island State Representative, says COICA's passage would be a tremendous blow to free speech on the Internet - and likely a first step towards much broader online censorship.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says COICA would send the world a message that the United States approves of unilateral Internet censorship and that it is designed to undermine basic Internet infrastructure - the Domain Name System (DNS).

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