The Threat of Big Brother: How One Bill Plans to Track and Store Your Personal Information

Target: Members of the United States House of Representatives

Goal: Protect citizen’s internet privacy.  Do not allow pending legislation that will compromise this privacy to pass.

Imagine if you will that your internet service provider is able to store your personal information in its database for months on end: everything about you, from your name and address to your bank account and credit card numbers.  Based on your personal information and internet activity you will be tracked and investigated by authorities. It seems too crazy to be true right?  Well, if some in the House of Representatives have their way, it could be true.

The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act (drafted by none other than Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, and the same man who brought you the renowned SOPA Act) has its sights set on taking down criminals involved in child pornography.  By the rules of this new bill, internet service providers (ISPs) would not only be to track internet uses—but will allow the information to be held for upwards of 18 months.  After the recent upheaval over the Stop Online Piracy Act, it is no surprise that Americans are serious about maintaining their internet privacy and to many this Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act is a direct assault on this privacy.

While this recent pending legislation (dubbed almost too ironically as HR 1981) would crack down on actual criminals—“imposing ‘a fine and/or prison term of up to 20 years for possession of pornographic images of a child under the age of 12’”—it would be painting with too broad a brush.  Under the terms of the Act, anyone suspected of a crime could potentially be traced: that means that even in the case of crimes of a civil nature (divorce or child custody battles would be included).

Additionally, HR 1981 would exponentially increase the risk that internet user’s information will fall victim to hackers.  Large servers containing the valuable information would sure be a sweet spot for those looking to cash in on the information made available—both HBGary Federal and Symantec are security companies, and both have been hacked.  It is no wonder why red flags are flying up in all directions around this bill, driving many civil liberties groups and activists working to bat it down before it can even lift off.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Members of the United States House of Representatives,

Americans are serious about their privacy. As was recently demonstrated with the outcry against the Stop Online Privacy Act, Americans are not willing to compromise their right to freely navigate the web without being tracked.

The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act (HR 1981) would threaten internet users and violate American’s Fourth Amendment Right which was instated to specifically protect our rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.  HR 1981 is unreasonable and would track a wide range of internet users—including those without a background of internet or child pornography crimes.

While it is important to catch and prosecute criminals involved with child pornography, HR 1981 would do so ineffectively while risking the possibility that innocent Americans become victims themselves.

I urge you to stand with the American people and against HR 1981.

Sincerely,

[Your name will go here]

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Signatures

  • Alper Arslan
  • Stefano Serpico
  • Teresa Ashley
  • Aurelia Gasher
  • Katie Carlile
  • Elisabeth Bechmann
  • Victoria Pitchford
  • Les Lambert
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