Thursday, September 15, 2011


A well-meaning US federal bill not well-received? Even by human rights groups? Seems odd, I thought.

House Bill 1981, entitled "The Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011", provides the expected: increased child protection against internet pornography. It aims to do so by imposing heavier penalties. For example, financiers of access to child porn will be fined or imprisoned for up to 20 years, or both.

However, it makes a sharp turn by requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to retain the network addresses they temporarily assign to each account for a period of 18 months. On top of this, ISPs would be mandated to securely store those records to protect customer privacy and prevent data breaches. They would not be held legally liable for release of information gathered pursuant to the provisions of the bill.

The lurking evil behind the well-intentioned bill is succinctly phrased by the director of Center for Democracy and Technology: "What really concerns me is the data that will be retained will be used in investigations that are not the subject of the bill, which is protecting children from child pornography,"

For the nay-sayers, law enforcement already has the ability to tell ISPs to track a subscriber suspected of a crime in the status quo. Such is deemed to be more appropriate than the proposed bill for the former allows law enforcement “to focus on actual, useful data without forcing ISPs to manage mountains of data tied to Internet users' normal, legal Internet activities.” In short, the bill is a mere redundancy crafted as a tool for different agenda other than combating child pornography.

Worse, it might be proved to be counterproductive since it would only “push more pedophiles to use a proxy service or go to a local library to mask their identity."

Given the abovementioned reservations, the bill should be subject to some re-thinking to address fears even by human rights advocates.

Crisela Bernardino, post #13



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