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ACLU is calling it a direct assault on Internet users

11:26 am in Uncategorized by David Segal

"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.

Who Knew? PATRIOT Act Up For Renewal This Month

3:36 pm in Uncategorized by David Segal

Did you hear that the PATRIOT Act is up for re-authorization?  No?  Well, you’re not alone: I turns out US intelligence services can still keep a secret.

President George W. Bush signed the PATRIOT Act into law on October 26, 2001. Nearly a decade later, some of its the most noxious provisions have burrowed their way deep into our legal system.

A year ago, President Obama signed a bill extending three provisions of the original Patriot Act.  Last week Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced another extension of those provisions, triggering what’s sure to be a bipartisan effort to continue to deny Americans their civil liberties.

Click here to send Congress a message: It’s time to let the PATRIOT expire once and for all.

The bill starts with so-called “roving wiretaps” that allow the government to spy on anyone who even comes into casual contact with a suspect.  Stand next to someone suspicious on the subway?  Boom, now the government has permission to wiretap your phone.

Then there’s the eerily-named “lone wolf” provision, which lets the government apply the full power of the special courts created to deal with foreign spies against anyone who the government alleges is “preparing to attack.”  You don’t even have to commit a crime to get these super-powered courts targeting you — the Justice Department says that just visiting a flagged website would be enough!

But worst of all is the infamous “Section 215″. This incredible provision allows the government to take whatever they want — your phone records, medical records, email history, whatever — without having to show you’re suspected of a crime, or even relevant to an investigation!  But it gets worse — not only can the government just search through your personal records whenever they feel like it, but everyone involved is under a gag order to never let you know that you’re being spied on — and to ensure that you can never challenge the order in court.  The government could be looking through your emails right now and you’ll never even know.

The ACLU has a quick-and-dirty overview of some of the problems with these provisions over here.

Even quicker: Together, these provisions make a mockery of our civil liberties — letting the government spy on whomever they want, for any reason, without ever letting them know or giving them a chance to challenge the order in court. There’s a reason that even after 9/11, these provisions were seen as a bridge too far. But now it’s almost a full decade later, and Republicans are leading the way to extend them yet again!

Enough is enough — will you join us in demanding that Congress finally let these provisions expire?

Click here to join Demand Progress in the fight to protect Americans’ civil liberties and we’ll forward your message directly to your representatives.