Friday, February 24, 2012

Using the children as a shield

What could possibly go wrong when our legislators set out to do "something for the children?"

I mean, there's no way that Congress would use the kiddos as a smokescreen to enact a piece of legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement to collect data on the citizenry. Right?

Take just a second to think about that. HR 1981, otherwise known as the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, is yet another power grab by the state promoted under the guise of protecting someone from something terrible.

Under HR 1981, internet service providers would be required to keep a log of the temporary network addresses (IP addresses) assigned to its subscribers so that los federales can access the information should they get a bee up their butt that someone has been looking at something naughty on the internet.
Under H.R. 1981, which has the misleading title of Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, Congress would force commercial Internet access providers to keep for one year a “log of the temporarily assigned network addresses the provider assigns to a subscriber to or customer of such service that enables the identification of the corresponding customer or subscriber information under subsection (c)(2) of this section.”  Let’s break that down into simple terms.
An IP address is a string of numbers that indicates the general location where someone accessed the internet. The IP address isn't unique to the user. It isn't even unique to the computer. If you use an unsecured wireless system someone can sit in the street in front of your house and access the internet using your connection. The IP address would be the same as if you accessed it from your study.

But the bigger problem is having Big Brother looking over your shoulder while you cruise the internet. Sure, there are people looking at naughty pictures on their computer screens. There are also people following the Syrian government as it kills off its own people. There may even be some folks writing subversive blog posts about the overreaching of the state.

We all have a right to be left alone. It is, as I have said before, the most fundamental right we have. We shouldn't have to worry about what records our internet service providers keep regarding our browsing. Hell, even the folks over on the right are upset about it.
H.R. 1981, one of the newest pieces of internet legislation to be debated, is a huge threat to our privacy. Under the auspices of protecting our children from pornography, it is simply a cleverly-disguised way to force online service providers to spy on your online activities and provide that information to the government.
There's a reason those in power couch their intentions to intrude into our private lives the way they do. Who on earth would be against a bill designed to protect our youth from the scourge of drugs? Who would opposed a bill designed to protect our nation from terrorists? Would would dare challenge a bill meant to protect our children from the pornographers?

But it's all just a ruse. All the state needs is for that tent to be lifted just high enough to get its nose underneath it. And once that nose is under the tent it's just a matter of time until the whole damn camel is snuggling up next to you in your sleeping bag.

By then it's too late.

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