New Bill May Force ISPs to Retain Your Data

House Judiciary Vote

House Judiciary committee before the vote.

If approved, this bill would force internet service providers to keep logs of all customer’s activities for one year – in case law enforcement officials require access to them. A House committee approved the bill in a 19 to 10 vote yesterday, July 28th, 2011, reported CNET. The Justice Department has lobbied for such requirements for some time.

The ACLU describes the bill as “a direct assault on Internet users.”

The bill is titled HR 1981 and is a blatant assault on privacy and internet freedom. With the recent push to regulate and control the internet, the U.S. should go ahead and declare their “War on Privacy,” which is already well underway.

CNET reports:

A last-minute rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses, some committee members suggested. By a 7-16 vote, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.

It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, leader of the Democratic opposition to the bill.

Representative Zoe Lofgren said the bill requirements would be easily avoided, since the bill only included commercial internet providers, suggesting that criminals could use libraries or free wi-fi locations. This is not to mention that a variety of online privacy services already exist, such as proxies, VPNs, and the Tor network. People who use the internet for criminal means already have methods to retain anonymity; destroying internet anonymity completely will only harm internet users who have no mal-intent, since criminals will only adapt. Ultimately, the bill’s function only gathers vast amounts of personal data, internet habits, and destroys privacy.

Privacy opponents have no shame. They’ve named HR1981 the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act,” in a not-so-suttle attempt to make the bill difficult to oppose. After all, what twisted Congressman would oppose a bill called the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act?” Only a sick, pro-child-pornography bastard, presumably.

The truth is, HR1981 would force ISPS to keep names, addresses, phone numbers, credit cards, bank accounts, IP addresses and even a record of which websites you visit.

“The bill is mislabeled,” said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”

“I oppose this bill,” said Sensenbrenner. “It can be amended, but I don’t think it can be fixed… It poses numerous risks that well outweigh any benefits, and I’m not convinced it will contribute in a significant way to protecting children.”

If you support privacy and a free internet, please sign this petition and contact your Congressman personally.
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