HR 1981 – The Creeping On Us Through the Internet Bill



Update: 1/31/12: It is with great concern that I find myself on the same side as the ACLU, but I agree with them on HR1981. The ACLU calls HR 1981 “A direct assault on Internet users” and I have to say I agree. I hope I haven’t slipped back into my liberal self. Only kidding, that’s not possible, liberal seems to mean socialist these days.

Fact is that HR1981 is a bipartisan bill and the opposition should be bipartisan. Lamar Smith and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz are the bipartisan co-sponsors – a strange duo for sure. I posted the original story back in August so I’m reposting it below because a House committee just passed it.

The short of it is congress wants to force Internet service providers to keep track of and retain their customers’ information — including your name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses.

ISPs would collect and retain your data whether or not you’re accused of a crime.  Supporters deceitfully dubbed it the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act,” but allies in Congress are calling it the an “all-encompassing Internet snooping bill.”

It would be a data bank of every digital act by every American that would let us find out where every single American visited Web sites.

Why do they need this private information??? It’s a very broad bill and it stinks. Unfortunately, the right hasn’t picked up opposition to this bill yet so I have to post a lefty petition site – warning, it has that scary red fist symbol of solidarity on the siteDemand Progress

This is where I say we need to join the opposition across the aisle and save our freedoms.

This is way too much loss of privacy.

Original Story, August 21, 2011: The “creeping on us through the Internet bill” was passed by a House committee in July and it requires every U.S.-visited site store everyone’s personal information for possible use by a wide range of requestors.

All I can say is, government needs to get lost. Does anyone read these bills or give them thoughtful consideration before passing them? I have another question, do we need all these lawyers in Congress? Business people would be a nice change.

Internet businesses have been booming, but the government might have found a way around that with a new unfunded mandate which might threaten civil liberties. The bipartisan bill is HR 1981 (Introduced by: Lamar Smith Rep.Tx. and Debbie Schultz Dem.Fla.).

The bill is entitled, Protecting the Internet from Child Pornographers Act of 2011, the name of which makes it difficult to oppose. Who couldn’t agree with this? It was passed by the Republican House with Democratic support.

I do think calling it a child pornography act is somewhat misleading since it is all-encompassing and goes well beyond protecting children from Internet predators. We have lots of internet child pornography laws now and it would be nice if Congress concentrated on the proper enforcement of those.

Where is the government going to get the money and trained personnel to properly review all these records I wonder? It’s not going to be cheap for Internet businesses either.

The bill expands prior legislation, Protect Our Children Act of 2008, which requires any Internet provider with knowledge of possible child pornography transmissions report it or face fines of up to $150,000 for the first offense and up to $300,000 thereafter.

It also amends 18 U.S.C. § 2703, which requires disclosure of stored communications to the government. HR 1981 requires the retention and storage of certain data.

One possible problem is that it now requires “commercial” Internet providers retain all customers records for police review for up to 18 months. That includes customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses. An amendment to state that only IP addresses must be stored was rejected 7-16.

Every American’s digital signature will be stored from every single American-visited web site. How will this law be used? Will someone who forgets to pay taxes on a purchased item be hauled in by the IRS? The bill has the latitude to go well beyond child pornography.

Is this an invasion of privacy and do you trust that hackers won’t get your information? That little check box on Internet purchases which asks if you want your data saved will no longer be there. To make matters worse no one will be liable for your information being hacked because of the amendments in the bill which are aimed at protecting those who retain the records. If you’re hacked because of someone’s incompetence, there will be no judicial recourse.

There is nothing in the bill to ensure data privacy and protection. There are no provisions to limit who can access the data, leaving it open to a wide range of requestors in civil, criminal and administrative proceedings or investigations.

Is it necessary? Law enforcement says it will bring them out of the Stone Age so I’m willing to wait-and-see, but it doesn’t update technology so it might not solve the whole Stone Age problem.

I am concerned it is a way to evade obtaining warrants and that it will be abused by law enforcement or the DOJ.

The Digital Due Process coalition was formed in March 2010 and one of its principles is that “government should obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before it can compel a service provider to disclose a user’s private communications or documents stored online” and it “should obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before it can track, prospectively or retrospectively, the location of a cell phone or other mobile communications device.”  The coalition’s goal is to have this principle incorporated into any legislation.

Both law enforcement and the DOJ are opposed to such principles. Furthermore, the DOJ objects to clarification, in other words, they want to keep it broad, allowing for a broad government overreach.

Another issue is that it applies only to “commercial providers.” Criminals could go to libraries or Internet cafes and work anonymously. It seems like only law-abiding citizens will be caught in this web.

This bill concerns me. Once the bill is passed, it can be amended any which way they want. Is there enough balance between law enforcement’s needs and the needs of the public to maintain their civil liberties? Don’t forget this is the government that gave us Fast & Furioua. What possibly could go wrong? Read more here and you decide: CNET news on the ISP snooping bill and Tech Law Journal and the Bill itself



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