Internet Privacy May Soon be a Thing of the Past

Have you heard about H.R. 1981: The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011? If not, listen up, because this is a very important bill that is quietly making it’s way through approval as I type. With a name like that, who would possibly oppose, everyone wants to keep children safe. The only problem is that this act encompasses much more than child pornography, it encompasses everyone’s ENTIRE internet privacy.

Under this act, every ISP would be required to track everyone’s online activity including your name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and  temporarily-assigned IP addresses, and save it for a minimum of 18 months. So basically, the government would be assuming that everyone is a criminal and they are just waiting for you to break the law. The equivalent of this bill is the government having someone follow you everywhere, everyday of you life and record it just in case one day you decide to rob a bank, or kill someone.  Could you imagine???

California Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s recently proposed to rename the act “Keep Every American’s Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act of 2011.”

Why rename it that? Well Rep. Lofgren’s new title explains it all, once the ISP has your entire online footprint saved, all it takes for that information to be subpoenaed is an inkling that you have done something wrong.  You don’t have to be under investigation for child pornography charges, simply being suspected is enough.

Which brings up another skeptical situation, what if you are undergoing a child custody battle, or a divorce, or anything?! Yup, your history can be subpenaed and you know how? No warrant is necessary, all they have to do is ASK.  No probable cause is necessary, nice.

This act has successfully made its way through the House Judiciary Committee and it’s next stop is a vote by the House. You can track the status of the act here.

What can you do? If you oppose this legislation, you can go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and fill out an easy form to contact your state representative.

So, do you agree or disagree with the legislation? Leave your comments below!

21 Comments.
  1. I would be more worried about hackers getting the info and selling it to ‘who knows’.

  2. Tim

    Thanks for reporting on this. EFF is doing a great job but alas, they are limited in folks that subscribe to their newsletters too. The more awareness from all sources the better.

    When I have asked folks in circles I run in, churches and such, most are completely uninformed and perhaps worse many say “it’s all worth it if it protects even one child from abuse”. Well, just round us all up and get the lions hungry cause the old Roman games are about to begin.

    The only way we protect our freedom is to protect everyone’s privacy, even if it’s some of the foulest people on the planet. History has shown how this level of information can and will be abused, all it takes is one highly popular politician to fool the masses.

  3. It will unfortunately get passed, just like the patriot act. It’s just the final piece of the puzzle to make the US a fascist state. Hitler and Stalin would be proud.

  4. Vin

    PLEASE..

    EMAIL AND TELL ALL OF YOUR NEIGHBORS, FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES, FAMILY, ETC. ABOUT THIS BILL AND HOW THEY CAN STOP THE GOVERNMENT’S UNLAWFUL INTRUSION OF OUR INTERNET PRIVACY. THANKS.

  5. Alex Lunix

    While this would be terrible for users, imagine how much traffic the ISPs would have to store, that would sure cost a lot.
    Say hello to skyrocketing internet prices.

  6. Another Tim

    This kind of information is a gold mine for hacking. Some ISPs are practically mom-and-pop shops. I’m sure a very large number of ISPs are ill-equipped to ensure the safety of that data. You can bet that this would be target #1 for hackers, as it is a treasure-trove of information waiting to be stolen.

  7. Michael Oatman

    The federal government really hates that people can talk to each other without their knowing about it, and that last phrase is nearly about to become “… without their prior approval”.

    It is a Brave New World these days after 1984. I’m not sure what medium would be more heavily regulated and snooped upon if this bill were to pass. If only the banks had the same regulations, huh? Actually, someone should do that: take this bill verbatim, and only replace every instance of the word “internet” with the words “banking industry”. My bet is that every Republican supports the original and NONE support the banking one. I’ll take bets, right now! Uh oh, that might be illegal! Ha Ha.

    The internet, as we have seen in the countries involved in the ARABS uPRisING, has become a vital means of communication for those who wish to make a change for the better in this world, and the US certainly does not want that to happen here! They would rather have a military police state, and they are sure to get one if they ask. All they need is another reason which THEY MANUFACTURE so that YOU FEEL THE FEAR. The opposite of Fear is Love. Please do not be Duped.

    We already have laws on the books to stop pedophelia. If that is their aim (which it is not — these people are using it as a red herring, or a False Flag, if you prefer, and they really could not give a bag of assholes about pedophelia in truth), then we should work to strengthen the laws and penalties pertaining to that, and not yet again sacrifice more of our rights and liberies for the sake of imagined safety.

    Please help to stop this and every other internet-limiting bill introduced, and please support the EFF! They muchly deserve all of our help. Thank you for all you do!

    Michael Oatman,
    Host/Producer,
    Illegal Knowledge TV

  8. Scott

    From looking at the bill via your link, it appears that they’re only required to track the temporarily assigned IP addresses. Any other communications are to be kept for 180 days and only made available in response to a warrant. Where does the bill say that ISPs are required to retain content like activity and credit card numbers for 18 months and share them just for the asking? I can’t find that in the bill.

  9. Kemo

    Big companies cant protect their data from industrial espionage, again and again i hear of ‘government offical leaves laptop on bus’ or something of the like.
    Its not just a matter of the government having our info, its that even if they do have it and use it the right way, they simply are unable to protect it.

  10. Nicola

    This is crazy, and I’m worried that Europe will be the next stop of this wave of crazyness…
    There is already too much power in the hands of few… and who check on them?

  11. Nilson

    If the legislation is to protect the children, only the IP and the time of the user access should be stored, and used in case of police investigation. But store more than this is to make internet access something unsafe, cause we don’t know who will get these data to use against us. It’s like some sites that store credit card number, and these data are robbed by a cracker. I’m a Brazilian and here also there is an intention to create a similar law. And we also express our opinion against it. It is difficult to know if there is any other intention behind it.

  12. Concerned Citizen

    I applaud no-ip’s integrity for exposing this sham for what it is. All too many companies are ready to sell out at the drop of a hat. Enough is enough! Didn’t they learn from the Nazis and Russians what happens to countries that consider their citizens nothing but criminals and turn everyone into spies and informants? Well done, no-ip.com!

  13. KB

    How about the “Parents should keep track of their kids Act” instead. This would certainly solve all of these issues. I’m just going to bury myself in a hole and get it over with.

  14. tim

    How many of these people, shocked by this bill, were abused as children? How many of them still wake in the middle of the night with memories that will never go away, and cannot get back to sleep? How many of them have emotional and phyiscal scars to remind them?

    Information is already being stored by companies who want to make money from your Internet use, but that is the American way. Maybe the bill goes too far, but what we are doing now isn’t working.

  15. Brian

    Everything seems to be getting out of hand, the majority always seem to get penalised for the minority, no normal person condones children being abused but there seems to be an obsession in suggesting anyone inadvertently accessing such material is a pervert or monster, if that’s the case then anyone watching films with vampires or killing in, must be vampires or killers. What a load of crap.

  16. oceania

    What does your constitution say? I bet if you read your own constitution, somewhere it would invalidate many laws, sub laws and those that are proposed. This act doesnt protect children, it criminalises anyone who is on the internet, in and out of the US, considering many servers are US based. Pre-Empting such barbaric assumptions only impedes the real investigations into the real issues of Child sexploitation. I dare say its the fanatic obsessed religious doofus’s wanting to control you all, using what most people would consider important. How is storing peoples privacy going to protect anyone once the crime is already committed? Nope I think it is all waste of time, Spend the money on real law enforcement that needs the funding that goes into investigating these crimes, if you really serious about Child Sexploitation, not unproductive Acts of parliament (Congress in your country) that is open to abuse itself. Remember the movie Fortress with Christopher Lambert, well this reminds me of that movie, go watch it, and you’ll get what I mean… Cheers, your Aussie friend. :D

  17. Agent Number Two

    It’s like a surveillance camera for your data and the internet is like a bathroom.

    So they are putting a camera in your bathroom.

    Deal with it and leave em a present.

  18. Electrobawz

    Yeah, then everyone will be required to install web cameras all around their own homes and log into a central government website so that they really can watch you. It’s already too late, big brother is watching you.

  19. your blog post actually started me thinking

  20. Felipe

    “Internet Privacy May Soon be a Thing of the Past” There has never been Internet privacy. From its inception the internet was built as a means to share information, not to keep it private. It has only been recently that people have tried (unsuccessfully and through legalese) to create “internet privacy.”

    While I personally would like the 4th amendment to apply, I know that technologically “internet privacy” is an oxymoron (specially with soon-to-be-ubiquitous IPv.6).

    Another problem with all the legalese lies in that the Internet is an international network (the internet was created in Geneva at CERN and it now reaches pretty much everywhere). How much reach can a bill like this have?

    Regardless of your inclination towards this bill, anything you do online is, has always been, and will remain, an open book.

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