So-Called Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 is a Steaming Pile of Shit, Let Your Congressional Representatives Know That Unfettered Surveillance is Not Okay

This is the kind of bipartisanism that I can do without: increased surveillance on American citizens online.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:

Despite serious privacy concerns being voiced by both Democratic and Republican leaders and by thousands of digital rights activists using EFFs Action Center, this afternoon the House Judiciary Committee voted 19 to 10 to recommend passage of H.R. 1981. That bill contains a mandatory data retention provision that would require your Internet service providers to retain 12 months worth of personal information that could be used to identify what web sites you visit and what content you post online. EFF had previously joined with 29 other civil liberties and consumer privacy groups in signing a letter to the Committee members that condemned the bill as a “direct assault on the privacy of Internet users.”

via House Committee Approves Bill Mandating That Internet Companies Spy on Their Users | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The so-called Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 is the kind of rhetorical nonsense that has very little to do with protecting children and very much to do with unfettered surveillance of all American citizens online. If passed into law, it would require “commercial” ISPs (how many would you say are not commercial?) to maintain 12 months of records on what you do online (websites you visit, what you post, etc). These kinds of Panopticon-like surveillance tools have been promoted by the Justice Department of the Bush and Obama administrations. There are more Republican backers of this bill than Demoncrats, but it is important to note that there are elected officials on both sides of the aisle who want to push this terrible law onto the American people. Let your congressional leaders know here that you won’t stand for this kind of offensive affront to American liberties.

Interestingly, a similar law recently took effect in China. Read about it here.

 

 

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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4 comments on “So-Called Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 is a Steaming Pile of Shit, Let Your Congressional Representatives Know That Unfettered Surveillance is Not Okay
  1. Death says:

    Wow, when will the US government ever act for the people?
    On a side note, children do not need any more protection since they are more than restricted when it comes to day-to-day living. They can do next to nothing with their lives as is, and people do see porn at an early age and come out fine, so children not being able to see a porno should not be a public concern.
    Back to the blog topic, there is unfortunately little an American citizen can do in terms of getting the law changed quickly, since their state or their local government tends to require everyone to do whatever it is…
    Funny, even if the American people organize, what do they do next? Revolution is the last resort, of course, but what is the exact process that they can take to stop a bill from going into law, or from overturning a federal law? Contacting their representatives does not work because the representative can easily say no with a pre-scripted response, and then what? Americans are locked out of their own government, plain and simple.

  2. […] I have said before [most recently here], I oppose government and corporate surveillance of what American citizens do […]

  3. Lovely Hazuki says:

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.1981:

    All it says is that they have to record “the temporarily assigned network addresses the service assigns to each account” (the IP address), nothing else. They don’t have to record websites you visit, credit card info, addresses, or ANYTHING. Not only is this information wrong, but it’s inciting hysteria across the net when most ISPs already logged IP addresses, anyway.

    You’re safe, kids. Go back home.

  4. Jason Ellis says:

    Hi Lovely Hazuki,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. This, as is true of many bills, makes changes to existing US legal code. In this case, the big changes are to the 2703 section of title 18, which covers disclosure of “customer communications or records.” It adds a requirement to retain assigned IP addresses for a period longer than many providers would want to or currently do now. It also puts in place an easier mechanism for administrative subpoenas. This enables federal law enforcement officials to contact an ISP and require additional surveillance of customers by retaining and handing over those “customer communications or records” listed in 2703. What is disturbing about administrative subpoenas is that there is no judicial oversight over the issuing of them. This means that they can be used broadly and without thorough protections for the individual under suspicion of any crime (this obviously would not be confined to cases of child pornography, because there is nothing confining this new law to those cases). On the surface, keeping a record of IP addresses seems innocent, but it is the other surveillance and record keeping potential bound up in this law that is so disturbing.

    Also, the HR1981 bill as displayed on THOMAS is not the amended bill (it is the original version that appeared on May 25) that includes the additionally troubling extra bits of stored information that would be required for all ISP customers. You can read more about the amended version here:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20084939-281/house-panel-approves-broadened-isp-snooping-bill/

    Best, Jason

Comments are closed.

Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on DynamicSubspace.net. Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.

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