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Monday, February 19, 2007

But al-Qaeda gets to regroup without being hassled
Posted by Jill | 7:20 AM
I don't know how I missed this story last week:

A House Republican is pushing a measure that echoes a long-sought Bush administration goal: to require all Internet service providers to keep records on their subscribers.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) last week as part of the larger SAFETY Act, would give the attorney general broad discretion to write the rules on what information companies have to retain and for how long.

It is aimed at protecting children from predators, but privacy advocates say its privacy and civil-liberties implications are huge, and industry is concerned about the costs of compliance. News of the measure has spread around the blogosphere, as critics seek to mobilize opposition to the SAFETY Act.

The provision would require Internet service companies to provide at a minimum the Internet subscriber's name and address, which can be linked to an Internet protocol address -- an identification number associated with a particular computer at a given time. Law enforcement officials would have to obtain a subpoena to have access to the records and could not use the tool to track law-abiding citizens on the Internet, Smith said.

Riiiiight. And I am Marie of Rumania. It's amazing just how much Republicans focus on child porn, isn't it? For that matter, it's amazing how much they focus on everything having to do with sex. Let's not forget that in the summer of 2001, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was focused like a laser beam on cracking down on a New Orleans brothel while the 9/11 attacks were being plotted.

I'm not trying to belittle the problem of child pornography. But passing legislation demanding that ISPs conduct dragnets of all internet users is once again -- and I keep coming back to this, don't I -- conducting government like the old Franken and Davis sketch in which Tom Davis' character promises to "kill 'em BEFORE they can commit a crime."

The Bush Administration is all about "guilty until proven innocent." Every policy it has instituted or advocated in the name of national security is less about stopping terrorists, or chid pornographers, or drug dealers, than it is about monitoring the activities of ordinary Americans who might have the capability of waking up a sleeping population to the danger presented by its own government.

(hat tip: Lynn)

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