June 11, 2012, 9:58 AM — Child pornography, cyberbullying, online piracy--these are real-world problems that need solutions. But does legislating them away work?
You may think what your state capital or what Capitol Hill is up to is boring and not worth keeping tabs on. But see if you don't get your juices flowing after reading how your tech freedoms could be reined in by some of the dumb bills we've pinpointed in this story.
If lawmakers don't think through the implications of the legislation they create, they just muck things up further. In fact, this slew of bills at the national and state levels--as well as several international treaty proposals in the works--are outright stupid.
You should be concerned about some of these proposed changes to U.S. law--how will they infringe upon your privacy? And note that a couple of them are in negotiations behind closed doors without public input at all.
H.R. 1981: Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011
The Legislation: If passed, this legislation could force any business offering paid Internet access--airports, hotels, coffee shops, and ISPs--to keep records of users' online activities, so that if the government ever wants to inspect them, it can.
Why It's Terrible: Most people want to keep kids safe, but having the government spy on everyone who uses the Internet is not the answer. You'd think there would be other ways to catch perverts that don't involve such a frightening infringement on the privacy of innocent people.
Status: H.R.1981 is out of committee; it has been placed on the calendar and is slated for discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives at some point.
Why You Should Care: Don't let the title on this one fool you. H.R. 1981, if made into law, will let the government spy on and keep records of everything you do online.
Hawaii H.B.2288: Hawaiian Data Retention Bill
The Legislation: H.B.2288 would mandate that any company that provides Internet access in Hawaii--not only ISPs, but coffee shops, libraries and workplaces--keep two years of usage records, including the sites users visited and the IP addresses used.
Why It's Terrible: We're not talking about the long-term tracking of people suspected of a crime, but everyone who uses the Web in the entire state of Hawaii. Imagine if all that data got into the wrong hands or could be used against people in some way.