Google: don’t give private ‘trolls’ Web censorship power
Appearing at today’s “Legitimate Sites v. Parasites” hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Google’s Kent Walker was clear: a private right of action to bring a COICA claim would give rightsholders tremendous leverage over Google. Walker went so far as to warn of “shakedowns” from private companies wanting to force changes in Google’s behavior.
In his written remarks, Walker expanded on the thought. “Policymakers should foreclose private rights of action and tailor intermediary requirements appropriately,” he said. “Given the evasive tactics bad actors employ to avoid detection, no intermediary will be able to prevent all abuse of its systems, and efforts to legislate must be careful not to hold intermediaries responsible for abuses of their systems that could not reasonably be prevented. Legislation should not include a private right of action that would invite suits by ‘trolls’ to extort settlements from intermediaries or sites who are making good faith efforts to comply with the law.”
Last year’s version of COICA included no private right of action, but that could change this time around. As Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said today, “We could begin to grant a right of private action… I would be the first to be critical if we step over the line, but I think that there’s more that can be done, and I think that we need to use this hearing as another opportunity to come up with some legislation that we’ll all be proud of.”