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Doing their civic duty

July 28, 2009

The House Un-American Activities Committee The House of Representatives recently passed a bill mandating that anyone offering a free public wifi connection has to report any illegal images that are uploaded when people are using their connection. This bill, which would extend to coffee shops, hotels, libraries and even Barnes & Noble, will be enforced by a $300,000 fine for any non-compliant business, and evidence could be kept online for police investigation. This bill passed 409-2, with only the Libertarian whackjob Ron Paul and someone representing Georgia voting against it. While I understand that there’s no easy way to police those doing illegal things from public IP addresses other than to monitor everything, this just feels like another example of governmental over-compensation. The bill was passed under the impression that it would be an effective way of curtailing the proliferation of child porn on the net, and while that’s definitely true, it seems also to be an effective way of curtailing all net activity, seeing as “illegal images” will be taken in different ways by different people. While it’s not quite at the McCarthyist level of suggesting we’re all guilty until proven innocent, it does seem similar to how we all have to take off our shoes at the airport – we’re all treated with suspect because we need to fly somewhere. I’m not particularly comfortable with the fact I’m going to be under even stricter scrutiny because of something I have no intention of ever doing, nor am I ready to concede that it’s just “the world we live in”, but in the same way that the government doesn’t really know what to do to combat the evils of modern culture, I don’t really know what to do to combat the evils of blanket legislation. Other than stay home.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ben Miller permalink
    July 29, 2009 9:17 am

    “no intention of ever doing” –> don’t knock it till you try it…

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