February 20, 2009

Chalk this up as forcing you to become big brother:

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.

The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates.

"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," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."

Joining Cornyn was Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said such a measure would let "law enforcement stay ahead of the criminals."

Two bills have been introduced so far--S.436 in the Senate and H.R.1076 in the House. Each of the companion bills is titled "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet Safety Act.

So in essence, if you have a wireless router in your home then you would be required to log all access to that router and keep those logs for two years. Why? Because your neighbor might do something bad and use your internet connection to do it.

What has me scratching my head is the situation of failure. What if my $50 Linksys decides to bite the dust after one year? Do I have to store that router for another year to comply with this law?

How about people who have routers without logging, or that has very limited logging that might only keep X number of records and couldn’t possibly store the data for two years? Will these people have to go out and by new routers now?

This legislation will really cause outcries from privacy advocates. Just the idea that some people may have to go out and buy new hardware simply to become a new “big brother” for our government is very troubling.

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