Is Congressman Lamar Smith for real? As the Republican Representative of the 21st District of Texas, he has given us such insightful legislation as the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011 and HR 1981, Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.
SOPA was a wonderful piece of Socialist legislation, that would hand government the right to censor and shut down Websites accused, not convicted – accused – of violating copy right laws.
Last May, Smith introduced HR 1981, the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011. The bill passed out of Committee in July 2011 and in December, it was put on the Calender.
To make it more palatable to the average American, they gave it a purpose no one in their right mind would oppose – protecting our children from pornographers. But the truth is, HR 1981 has little to do with protecting children and a lot to do with invasion of privacy of every Internet user in America.
The average pedophile or criminal can simply go to Starbucks, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, or even the Public Library and by using commercial provided Internet, they can still surf the web anonymously. The only people that will end up in this new government database is law abiding citizens.
It was the so-called conservative members of the Republican party who made data retention their first major technology initiative after last fall’s election that led to the initial bill. I don’t know about you but those attempting to violate the Constitution should not be able to use the term conservative.
While in Committee the bill was rewritten to expand the list of data collection after intensive lobbying by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Now, instead of retaining only a list of IP address the newly expanded bill will -Collect all temporary IP addresses along with your name, your home address, your phone number, your credit card numbers, your bank account information, and any other information the government decides is pertinent. What better way for the government to find those “suspected” terrorists that could make the Obama “enemy of the state” list giving him the right to kill at his discretion.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, who led opposition to the bill called it nothing more than a “Data Bank of Every Digital Act by every American that would let us find out where every single American visited.”
Conor Friedersdorf, of TheAtlantic.com suggests that they should rename the bill “The Encouragement of Blackmail by Law Enforcement Act.” As written, HR 1981 doesn’t require that someone be under investigation on child pornography charges in order for police to access their Internet history – being suspected of any crime is enough. Law enforcement doesn’t even need probably cause to search the data bank. And how long do you think it would be before this personal information ended up being used in divorce proceedings or child custody cases?
Rep. Sensenbrenner, one of those so-called “conservative” members of the Republican party that thought it was okay to force Internet Providers to save IP addresses on every user, now says the bill “poses numerous risks that well outweigh any benefits, and I’m not convinced it will contribute in a significant way to protecting children.” Rep. Steve Chabot, R-OH, another of those “conservative” Republicans who claims to be an outspoken defender of individual privacy rights, cosponsored the bill.
The ACLU says that the broad immunity provisions for companies in the bill threaten to undermine state data breach laws and data security protections, as well as potentially immunize companies against tort and other claims. The bill ignores steps recommended by the Government Accountability Office to make child exploitation investigations more effective, including devoting more resources to forensic analysis of computers and better coordination between law enforcement agencies. The government is already taking advantage of electronic privacy laws, like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 to access a treasure trove of information collected by online companies about who we are, what we do, and where we go, often without a warrant and with little oversight. The provisions in this bill would exacerbate those problems, making more records available and identifiable for even longer periods of time. There are better ways to address child exploitation, while maintaining safeguards for online privacy.
How clueless do you have to be to mandate the creation of a huge database that includes all that personal information, especially in the age of Anonymous and Wikileaks? How naive do you have to be to give government unfettered access to it?
Oh, but not to worry, the writers of the bill included a provision to encourage service providers to give us notice when all that personal information is breached by hackers.
With any luck we will have time to cancel our credit cards, notify our banks that our accounts could be hacked, change every password we’ve ever used, change our phone numbers and depending on the sites you visit, move.
The time to stop this bill is NOW before it comes before the House for a vote. If you value what little privacy you have left – let your Representatives know how you feel about their continuing assault on the Internet.