National Security? Protecting Kids? Porn Takes the Rap Again

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Say you were the U.S. government and you wanted a record of every moment that every American was on the internet: every search, every transaction, every click. Of every American. And just for laughs, you also wanted every credit card number and bank account number an American used on the internet.

What would you call such a law?

* The No More Internet Privacy bill
* The 1984 Really Is Here Big Brother bill
* The Trust Your Government With Your Privacy bill

No, those wouldn’t be very attractive with voters, would they. So instead, the House Judiciary Committee has just passed the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.

The bill would require your ISP to maintain a record of your internet activity for a year. Not because you’ve done anything wrong, but because you might. If that strikes you as, well, exactly the kind of government reasoning that made the Soviet Union such a successful and stress-free place, you’re right.

And if you’re wondering what that has to do with protecting children, get in line.

“The bill is mislabeled,” said Committee member Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database of everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.” Indeed, the information wouldn’t be available only to the government. It could, for example, be subpoenaed by attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases.

The Republican majority that fast-tracked this bill through the Committee seems to have forgotten that looking at internet pornography is legal. You should feel insulted that one of your hobbies has been tarnished in a pathetic attempt to get popular support for a bill that strips every American naked.

“Every piece of prematurely discarded information could be the footprint of a child predator,” said Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-TX, who cosponsored the bill with pseudo-liberal Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL. “This bill ensures that the online footprints of predators are not erased.” The key word there is could. Lamar, how about you start submitting a minute-by-minute log of your driving activity for review by the government—-which will hang on to it for a year or two? After all, your car could be used by a child predator.

Some three dozen civil liberties and consumer advocacy organizations oppose this warrantless invasion of privacy, this dangerous expansion of government surveillance, this continued drumbeat of our children’s vulnerability. To oppose this bill, use the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s
handy form.

The bill is repulsive for its frontal attack on a basic American right-—the right of innocent people to be left alone, unsuspected and unmonitored.

It’s also noteworthy in the way that it uses fear of sexuality (not fear of death, or of poverty, but of sexuality) as a way of distracting and disarming people from the blatant power grab. That’s why sexual literacy helps safeguard American democracy. Reducing the fear of sex, and the perception that sex is dangerous, eliminates a key excuse American leaders currently use to undermine democracy, limit our rights, and impose a unitary vision of American society on all of us. That vision limits reproductive rights, adult entertainment, unfiltered internet access, and the use of sexually explicit material, to name just a few of its elements.

Just as racial myths (Blacks are criminals, Black men are after White women) were a key element in institutionalized racism, myths about the dangers of sexuality—-and the resulting necessity of controlling it at all costs-—are a key element in reducing Americans’ freedom of expression and thought.

The demonization of sexuality is not a trivial matter, and tolerating it is a luxury that no freedom-loving American can afford.

In opposing the bill, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) proposed renaming the bill the “Keep Every American’s Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act of 2011.”

That also failed. The government insists it wants to monitor you to protect your kids from porn.

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