A proposed law allowing the government to pull the plug on Web sites accused of aiding piracy received a sizable political boost yesterday.
Dozens of the largest content companies, including video game maker Activision, media firms NBC Universal and Viacom, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) endorsed the bill in a letter to the U.S. Senate. So did Major League Baseball and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, said new laws are needed to curb access to increasingly sophisticated "rogue Web sites" that "undermine the growth and stability of many industries and the American jobs that they support." The legislation should be enacted "during the time remaining" this year, meaning after the Democratic-controlled Congress returns in November, the letter says.
The proposal is not uncontroversial: Since its introduction a few weeks ago, the idea has alarmed engineers and civil liberties groups, who say that it could balkanize the Internet, jeopardize free speech rights, and endanger even some legitimate Web pages that are part of larger sites. According to its current wording, any domain name "dedicated to infringing activities" could find itself in the U.S. Department of Justice's prosecutorial crosshairs.