While most of Washington was bickering about the debt ceiling late last week, a bill made it through committee that, if passed by Congress, could affect your life much more than anything related to the deficit default. A House panel approved the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 19 to 10, CNET reports. Despite its warm and fuzzy name, the bill is a shockingly invasive piece of legislation that targets every American with an Internet connection.
If passed, the law would force Internet Service Providers to keep records of what their customers did on the Internet for a full year, as well as their “names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses.” This data would be “accessible to police investigating any crime and perhaps attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases as well.”
The kicker is that if someone wanted to Google, “How to make a bomb,” they would be completely untraceable if they did so on a public computer in a library or café. If you Google, “How to make a cake,” in your own home, that information would be stored and attributed to you for a year, along with all your personal information.
There is a legitimate chance that this bill will pass. Lawmakers are notoriously reluctant to vote against a bill with a name that could make them appear weak on crime (especially crimes against children). That being said, lawmakers are also notoriously stupid and don’t read the bills that pass their desks, so some stuffed shirt who squawks about “personal freedoms” every chance he or she gets may actually be signing away the freedoms of every American who pays the for the Internet.