A response from my Congressman regarding HR 1981

The other day, I received a form letter from my Congressman regarding my signature to the petition that I posted about last week (HR 1981: “The Internet Snooping Bill”). It reads as follows:

“Thank you for contacting me about the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act.  I’m honored to represent you. Your opinion is very important to me and my priority is to provide [district] with the best representation possible.

Representative Lamar Smith introduced the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, H.R. 1981, on May 25, 2011.  This bill would make it a federal crime to conduct an interstate or foreign financial transaction that facilitates access to child pornography.  Additionally, the bill requires U.S. District Courts to issue protective orders prohibiting harassment or intimidation of minor victims or witnesses that might affect their willingness to cooperate with or testify in federal investigations.  

Under this legislation, electronic communication service providers would also be required to keep temporary account addresses assigned to their customers on record for at least 18 months. Because of this provision, many civil liberties and privacy groups oppose the bill. As a grandfather and a member of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, it is extremely important to me that we do all that we can to protect children. As a member of the Privacy Caucus, I also understand your concerns about protecting law-abiding [state]’ privacy.  I believe that both of these important goals can and should be achieved.  As this bill moves forward through the legislative process, I believe we must do our best to ensure children’s safety while also taking care to address privacy concerns.”

I may be reading between the lines here, but it sounds like my congressman is asking me to “take one for the team”. Particularly his line being “extremely important to me that we do all that we can to protect children.” (It turns out that the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus supports HR 1981.) I’m an Auntie myself, and would die before I allowed something evil to happen to my nieces. However, this bill smacks too much of Big Brother for my comfort level.

By all means, make it a federal crime to make money on the sexual abuse of children and as such make a uniform sentencing and punishment guideline for it. And I demand that greater protections be given to victims and witnesses. It is traumatic enough to have to recount testimony over and over again without having to fear for your life as well as that of your family. But requiring the ISP’s to keep track of all our internet habits is just way too far reaching.

Also, did you know that this bill would put a majority of the costs to fund it on the shoulder’s of our Net service providers? (Cost to upgrade and support servers that house the information.) As of the CBO study conducted back in October of 2011, the estimate was to the tune of  over $200 million dollars. And that expense will surely be passed on to customers.

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