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BIG SISTER: Wasserman Schultz Teams With Conservatives to Pass Patriot Act 2.0

The long arm of the law gained extra strength points this week with the passage of the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, a mislabeled bill that will allow the government to collect information about every website everyone visits on the Internet. That is, unless you’re surfing Wi-Fi at Starbucks.

The bill makes the data collection applicable only to commercial providers, meaning that while honest Americans who pay their home Internet bills will have their searches and credit card numbers fished, derelicts roaming public libraries and coffeehouses will not be under the invasive eye of the guv’ment. According to Balloon Juice, Internet providers will be required to keep records of all their users’ activities for the period of one year. This database will then be accessible to the Police to mine.

The vote passed by a 19 – 10 margin and was sponsored by none other than Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Chair. Although Wasserman Schultz said Republican leadership “was trying to impose dictatorship” last week with their rhetoric and actions (see Politico article here), she seemed to be more than complicit in the privacy-crushing crusade.

A last-minute rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses, some committee members suggested. By a 7-16 vote, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.

It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition to the bill.

Noting the bill’s dubious title, opponents highlighted the backhanded, dirty, invasiveness of what is nothing short of the Patriot Act 2.0.

To make it politically difficult to oppose, proponents of the data retention requirements dubbed the bill the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, even though the mandatory logs would be accessible to police investigating any crime and perhaps attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases as well.


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