Lamar Smith Doesn’t Care About Personal Privacy on the Internet

    February 29, 2012
    Chris Richardson
    Comments are off for this post.

While SOPA is holding on to its dying breaths for dear life, Lamar Smith has apparently moved on to bigger and better things: Monitoring every aspect of your online behavior, details which would be available to any government agency without a warrant, all in the name of “protecting children” from the evils of adults, or something.

Actually, Smith’s new draconian approach to Internet activity is nestled in his latest sponsored bill, H.R.1981, aka, the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011. While the notion is a noble one–let’s be clear here, no one I know is advocating for child porn purveyors to be protected–it’s also a great method of subterfuge, because no one wants to hurt children, right? And if you add such an invasion of privacy to a bill, the overwhelming desire to protect children will prevent other politicians from voting against it.

Or something like that.

But, does protecting children mean massive invasions of Internet privacy should be tolerated, if not made to be outright legal? If Lamar Smith gets his way, then yes, yes it does. As pointed out by Boing Boing, over at MSNBC.com, Leslie Meredith points out some of the ridiculous details of Smith’s next move, one that is again hidden behind a “protect the children” mantra:

The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 would require Internet providers to store the IP addresses they assign to a customer’s Internet-connected devices along with identifying information like the customer’s name, address and the credit card numbers… [IP addresses] can provide a pretty clear picture of your routine over time. People are creatures of habit. You probably check your email when you get up. You check it several times at work and again when you get home in the evening. With knowledge of your personal trail of IP addresses, it’s not too hard to decipher your daily activities.

However, under Smith’s bill, records of both suspects and ordinary citizens would all be available to any government agency at any time, no warrant required. [Emphasis added]

That’s right, Lamar Smith wants the Internet activity of every American stored, courtesy of IP addresses. Furthermore, he wants this information to be available to any agency that wants to access it, again, all in the name of protecting children.

If this doesn’t sound like an end-around move to stick SOPA-like attributes to a Child Protection bill, perhaps I need to refresh my memory about such circumvention attempts. Not only does Smith’s bill include these Orwellian Internet regulation qualities, they’re actually worse than what was in the Stop Online Piracy Act. At least in SOPA, Smith never said he wanted every American’s Internet activity monitored and stored for later use.

But hey, it’s for the kids so it has to be good for the population, right? That’s clearly the approach Smith is going for

  • http://www.toosmarttofail.com Ray Gordon

    Wow, the content theives, cyberbullies, and other internet lowlifes are up in arms over internet record-keeping.

    Once you go online, you are doing so through a service that has your information anyway.

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

    Smith for President!

    • biggingeryeti

      Idiot. What would you say if someone followed you everywhere you went with a video camera, wrote down everything you did, purchased, said, expressed, shop you visited? You would get pissed off with it and if that would piss you off, so should SOPA. As for the so called content thieves, ever made a mix-tape? Ever record something off the T.V? Ever watched a movie at home with more than 7 friends? Borrowed a movie off a friend or lent one to a friend? Ever sung a song to someone? Fuck, ever sung someone happy birthday? Of course you have. Congratulations, you are a content thief.

    • brent stewart

      @Ray Gordon(idiot)

      [theft]   Example Sentences Origin
         [theft] Show IPA
      the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.
      an instance of this.

      Copying is not, by definition, theft because nothing is “taken away.” Get this; I can legally duplicate a Ferrari right down to every nut and bolt. Own it, drive it. I just can’t sell it. If I build a duplicate of a Ferrari, it isn’t stealing a Ferrari. Ditto copying a digital file. Idiots like you need to stop calling it content theft because there aren’t any dictionaries that will agree with you. If you wish to call it “illegal copying” then so be it. That theft rant is just propaganda like calling the Iraelis “occupying forces” within their ancestral homeland.

      The governments authority to view our personal information is not absolute. Ergo, the Fourth Amendment. The framers of the constitution recognized that governments have a tendency to wax totalitarian. The is the purpose of the various checks and balances. Additionally, Lamar Smith should spend some time actually looking after the voters in his district rather than pandering to the fat-cats in Hollywood. His campaign manager should be arrested by Vice for solicitation.

      So, any private record that’s kept by private firms should be available to the government without a warrant eh tovarisch? I think you should have a UA. It’s obvious that you’re ingesting too many psychotropic substances.

  • RON PAUL 2012

    The Government will continue to wage war on the Internet. The internet disperses ideas- enemies to Fascism. Senator Orrin Hatch suggested over a decade ago that the Government destroy computers without due process to combat “online piracy.” This is where we’re headed.

  • Kim Smith

    HR 1981 does not require Internet Service Providers to collect any information that they do not already have. Many ISPs already retain records of the temporary IP addresses assigned to their customers. And ISPs, like other businesses, retain the name, address and billing information of each of their customers. They use this information to process payments. HR 1981 does not require the collection of any personal information.

    HR 1981 simply sets a time for how long ISPs retain this information so that law enforcement officials can go after sex predators and child pornographers. Child pornography on the Internet is increasing 150% every year.

    Privacy protections that are already in place are not changed.

    Under current law, account information can already be accessed by a court order or subpoena. This bill does not change that process.

    Telephone companies already are required under current law to retain this same information for 18 months. HR 1981 simply says that ISPs will retain the information for 12 months.

    • brent stewart

      @ Kim Smith

      Tell you what, I’ll go for it if you will promise that it will be used ONLY for child porn related prosecutions.

      If believe that it will be limited to that then you are extremely naive. This will lead to witch-hunts and fishing expeditions.

      Damn-people like you. You probably love the traffic-light cameras and the wholesale surveillance society we’re creating. People with that mentality don’t deserve freedom. Freedom isn’t FREE, it comes at a price. Child porn is admittedly vile. However, this law won’t affect it. This is just the artifice they’re using to get it passed. Lamar Smith couldn’t possibly care less about child porn.