HR 1981: “The Internet Snooping Bill”

A little late, but I received a link to a petition out to stop [preferably alter] this thing, and thought that I would pass it on. 🙂

HR 1981 was introduced to the US House of Congress in May of 2011, and dubbed the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011” by supporters of the bill. It was written to be amended to the 18th Amendment, which enacted Prohibition and established Federal Statutes regarding the interstate transport and sale of Alcohol. The author of this bill, US Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), was also a top supporter of SOPA. (The Stop Online Piracy Act – The same bill that was later dropped for the time-being because of too many comparisons to China’s online practices. )

(SOPA would have allowed for the expansion of  “the ability of U.S. Law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods Provisions include the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the sites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the sites. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyright material, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison. ” (Wikipedia) )

If passed, HR 1981 would “[amend] the federal criminal code to prohibit knowingly conducting in interstate or foreign commerce a financial transaction that will facilitate access to, or the possession of, child pornography.” and “Adds as predicate offenses to the money laundering statute provisions regarding: (1) such financial facilitation of access to child pornography, (2) obscene visual representation of the abuse of children, and (3) a felony by a registered sex offender involving a minor.” (The Library of Congress) It would also call for stricter sentencing requirements involving Child Pornography as well as to provide additional protections for victims. Which is good, but here comes the rub:

It would require Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to save and store all sorts of customer information, like our ISP addresses, names, address, the accounts we use to pay for said internet service, as well as keep track of all the places our little ISP addy goes to. Our Net providers would also be required to hold on to all of that data for at least 18 months, as well as to surrender it should law enforcement ask for it.

It would also allow for “the issuance of an administrative subpoena for the investigation of unregistered sex offenders by the United States Marshals Service” (The Library of Congress). What is not mentioned is what evidence would already have to be present to enact such a response to allow Law Enforcement to go digging around into a person’s internet habits.

This bill has some good and some bad in it, as do many of our laws it seems, but I really would have liked to have seen some more compromise made to this bill before it was introduced to the House floor for scheduling of debate. Hopefully things like this petition will help to bring to our lawmakers attention to our thoughts and feelings on this bill and others like it. The sad thing is, that it should not have to take an election year to do it. 😦

Click here to Sign the Petition.

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