"Save the Internet..."

"Save the Internet..." by Steve Rhodes on flickr

“A direct assault on Internet users” is what the ACLU is calling it.  Yesterday a U.S. House committee approved HR 1981, a broad new Internet snooping bill.  They want 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.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, and 25 other civil liberties and privacy groups have expressed our opposition to this legislation.  Will you join us, by emailing your lawmakers today?

They’ve shamelessly dubbed it the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act,” but our staunchest allies in Congress are calling it what it is: an all-encompassing Internet snooping bill: The logs of users’ information would be accessible to police no matter the alleged crime.  And while it was initially asserted that the bill only required IP address storage — which would have been bad enough — an amendment was offered to clarify that this was the case was rejected on a 7-16 vote.

For a few minutes, it looked like a groundswell of opposition from progressives and right-wing libertarians might derail the legislation:

Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition to the bill said, “‘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.

“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.”

Rep. Sensenbrenner said: “I oppose this bill…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.”

But the bill eventually passed on shameful 19-10 bipartisan vote and now moves to the full House.