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More Internet regulation in the name of protecting children

Submitted by on Saturday, 21 February 2009 No Comment

Aren’t Republicans the ones who believe in less business regulation? Who are convinced America would be a much more prosperous place if those nanny-state liberals would get off Mom and Pop’s back?

Ay, but all bets are off if a proposal can be spun as “for the kids.” Or if there’s a plan that would let the government poke another hole in our privacy.

Which is why the party that brought the country a massive database of tens of millions of Americans’ telephone calls, and then pushed for immunity for the companies collecting the date, wants Internet service providers to keep users’ records for two  years.

Except Rep. Lamar Smith’s HR 1076 and Sen. John Cornyn’s S 436 reach far beyond ISPs to cover hotels, coffee shops, businesses big and small that have password-protected networks and even you if you have a home wireless network.

What a wealth of information.

The Texas Republicans say the provisions are no different from record-keeping requirements phone companies are subject to — we’ll assume they mean normal records, not NSA-style blitzkriegs. There’s a big difference, though, in phone-call data and online data.

A phone company knows only who called you or who you called. An ISP knows what site you hit, what you searched for, what forums you visited and where you shopped. The potential for shenanigans ranging from political black opps to blackmail is obvious.

And that’s assuming you can trust the ISPs to get it right. Remember, these are the folks who turn over the records of a dead granny so the recording industry could sue her.

What’s a little invasion of privacy if it’s “for the kids,” a quote that’s a refuge for many a politician up to no good. Who could oppose something if it helps children?

“Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level,” Coryn said at a press conference Thursday.

Note to Coryn and Lamar: It’s the World Wide Web. You can collect all the data  you want on Americans, but that’s not going to stop filth-peddling perverts camping in Estonia.

ISPs already are required to keep data for three months and to report child pornography. Across-the-board retention of two years of records is needlessly intrusive, not to mention expensive and confusing for business that would suddenly find this new requirement foisted on them.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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