The brother of the White House chief of staff is engaged in a campaign to have a "three-strikes" law against illegal file-sharers passed in the United States.
Modeled on a similar law enacted recently in France, a "three strikes" law would force Internet service providers to cut off Internet access to any users accused three times of downloading or sharing copyrighted material without permission.
Ari Emanuel, the brother of Rahm Emanuel, told the Abu Dhabi Media Summit last week that he is engaged in a lobbying effort to have such a law put on the books in the United States.
"We are in the midst of talking to the president and some attorney generals and [we are] trying to implement a three strikes and you're out rule," Emanuel said, as quoted at The Guardian.
Ari Emanuel is the CEO of William Morris, the US's largest and most prominent talent agency.
Opponents of three-strikes laws say there are significant problems with the policy. For one, it would cut off Internet access to entire households, not just individuals accused of illegal file-sharing. For another, the law, as laid out in French legislation, does not require a court to rule on the denial of access -- the individual need only be accused three times.
Opposition to the proposal could further be hindered by the fact the public increasingly views Internet access as a human right. In a recent poll, nearly 80 percent of people surveyed in 26 countries agreed that the Internet is a "fundamental human right."
The US is among ten countries, plus the EU, currently negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a broad international proposal that would bring copyright laws across many developed nations into sync with each other.
According to documents obtained by privacy and security expert Michael Geist, a "three strikes" law has been included in drafts of the proposed treaty.
But, months before any decisions on ACTA are expected to be made public, some governments have already rebelled against the three-strikes idea. Last week, by a vote of 663 to 13, the European Parliament condemned the secretive ACTA negotiations and forbade member countries from passing "three strikes" laws.
But, as Nate Anderson at Ars Technica points out, the Obama administration appears to be taking a different view. In a speech at the US Export-Import Bank last week, President Obama pointed to ACTA as a cornerstone of the White House's intellectual property strategy.
"We’re going to aggressively protect our intellectual property," Obama said. "That’s why [the Office of the US Trade Representative] is using the full arsenal of tools available to crack down on practices that blatantly harm our businesses, and that includes negotiating proper protections and enforcing our existing agreements, and moving forward on new agreements, including the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement."