What We Really Need Is a "Stopping Congress From Exploiting For-the-Children Politics" Bill

Published on February 20, 2009
by John Paczkowski

1984Funny isn’t it? Congress spent most of last year calling for Internet companies to limit user data retention and here it is pushing legislation that would require Internet service providers and the operators of Wi-Fi access points to retain Internet user data for up to two years. Why? To protect children from predators, of course.

Introduced by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, the “Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth Act,” or Internet Safety Act, states that “a provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user.”

Sounds a bit broad, doesn’t? And indeed, privacy advocates say that it applies not just to the Wi-Fi access points of Internet service providers, but to those of libraries, schools, businesses and individuals as well.

To mine. And to yours.

An unsettling thought. Said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology: “[This is] invasive, risky, unnecessary, and likely to be ineffective.”

Perhaps. But it’s for the children. “While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children,” Sen. Cornyn said Thursday. “Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level.”

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