SOPA's author wants everything you do online logged and made available without a warrant

Lamar Smith (R-TX), author of the ill-starred SOPA Internet regulation, has an even dumber idea for the Internet. In the name of fighting child pornography, he wants to force ISPs to log everything you do online, then make it available to police and government agents without a warrant. Leslie Meredith has a writeup on the mounting opposition to Smith's latest act of unconstitutional lunacy:

However, under Smith’s bill, records of both suspects and ordinary citizens would all be available to any government agency at any time, no warrant required.

"This type of legislation goes against the fundamental values of our country where individuals are treated as innocent until proven guilty," Reitman said. "H.R. 1981 would uproot this core American principle, forcing ISPs to treat everyone like a potential criminal."

The bill has been forwarded from committee to the full House of Representatives for consideration, which is expected later this year. There is no sign of a Senate version at this time.

If the past is any indicator, Smith may be in for a hard fight with activists. He was also sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill that would have shut off access to foreign websites accused of hosting pirated content. But he was forced to withdraw the legislation after massive protests by many of the same opponents who likewise thought the remedy was too harsh for the problem.

Child porn law could affect everyone's privacy


  1. the .0000001% are terrified that their names, photos and locations will finally be in the hands of EVERYONE , really, everything we have seen so far in terms of locking down the web is just about that and nothing more.   Get that task done and the nonsense will stop.

  2. Although I’m afraid they might actually call my bluff, sometimes with statements like this I’m tempted to say, “Fine, have it” and the bury them with the information, knowing that most, if not all of it, will be completely irrelevant to whatever they’re trying to achieve.

    I feel the same way when the FBI or other law enforcement agencies start asking for the right to peoples’ library records. While I can’t–and wouldn’t–give out another person’s library records it’s so tempting to give them the avalanche of completely useless data they’re asking for. On the one hand it would make the point that their priorities really lie elsewhere. On the other hand I doubt they’d be smart enough to get the point.

    1. I doubt they’d be smart enough to make much use of it either, and what we end up with is “anyone who ever queried x must be arrested!” and “yay! this is working, look at all the people we arrest! We are truly functional!”

      1. I’ve always suspected the secrecy provisions in the PATRIOT Act, particularly regarding the seizure of library records, were intended to keep the FBI from looking stupid. In the case of the Deming (Washington) Library in June 2004 the FBI demanded library records of all patrons who’d checked out a book about Bin Laden because of a handwritten note in it that turned out to be a quote from Bin Laden made after the book was published.

        Not only did the FBI walk away empty handed because the librarians challenged it but it was obvious that the FBI agents involved didn’t realize that whoever wrote the note may not have checked out the book. It makes me wonder how many of the FBI agents involved in that debacle had ever even been in a library.

    2. most, if not all of it, will be completely irrelevant to whatever they’re trying to achieve.

      What if all they’re trying to achieve is to get enough information to fuck with you? That’s certainly a feature of current datamining techniques.

    3. That information would be searchable and filter-able. Too much data is not an issue if you have a good way to connect it and search it. 

      I am just wondering when will someone start tweeting Lamar’s and his family’s questionable activity on the interwebs and how would that affect things.

      Ultimately, these bills reveal a certain way of thinking: The belief that an authority should have ultimate control and knowledge over everyone’s actions and that noone can be trusted (by the authority).

      The reality of it is that anybody who seeks such power is precisely the party to not be trusted and stripped of any power, ironically.

    4.  there was a great artist who gave a talk at TED about this kind of thing after being put on the terrorist watch list (he had to report back to the FBI/CIA about his travels for a few months) he ended up sending them everything from pictures of his meals from his collected twitter posts in print.

  3. If people like this are so concerned with child pornography, why aren’t they concentrating their efforts on companies that sexualize our children? Ever see a bratz doll?

    1. They don’t care about child porn. Anyone who’s ever done even the most cursory of research about the subject knows that actual child porn consumers have learned a LONG time ago to use proxies, TOR and other ways of obfuscating one’s web history, and that they don’t find the porn directly on the web but via VPN, encrypted mail, darknets (Freenet, TOR sites, etc) and other, more obscure means.

      They just want more control.

      1. And, “think of the children!” is a good way to prod the cattle in a given direction. 

        Yes, the cattle is us. This is how they think of us.

        From the viewpoint of us being docile and obedient, and how much oppression and abuse we’ll take before we raise our heads from hard work and the feed of crap food and entertainment, they are quite right.

        1. Yep, because it is the perfect shortcircuit directly to the emotional response. Bypassing any rational thought and demonizing any naysayers as  pedophiles in the process.

        1. I must, I must!

          Irellephant, though.  I didn’t say that Bratz porn didn’t exist; just that it shouldn’t be confused with child porn.  Which is probably rule 34a.

          1. I think it was more a cause of the sexual elements in the dress and behavior portrayed in the toys, and how they rub off on the kids they are marketed towards.

  4. A pale copy of Canada’s C-30 bill.  It probably doesn’t even have an Internet Inspector Corps* – able to access any file in any computer in the country without a warrant – as our bill does. And even if it does I bet that our uniforms are way cooler: sort of a variation on the scarlet Mountie uniform only with lightning bolts patches.

    * see sections 33 & 34 on the Parliament website

  5. I’m not one to casually endorse invasion of privacy, but the only way I think this would be justifiable is if citizens could do the same to any elected official, police officer, federal agent and lobbyist.  Your average citizen has little potential for abusing power, but the aforementioned groups all do.  If our concern is really over stopping illegal activity then those in power should be subject to the most scrutiny, as the potential damage from them is far greater.

  6. I like this idea. 

    The upside is that police could eventually use neural networks to predict who will commit a crime (any crime), much like credit agencies calculate whether you are likely to default on a loan based on lots of small factors. That way, they can keeps tabs on you before you commit the crime. For example, you just visited the Dominos Pizza Website and you just checked out a movie review for Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. Bingo – with 99% certainty they know you are going to smoke marijuana. Now they can get a warrant and pay you a visit.This is a real plus for  law and order.  Obviously, you  don’t have to agree with me. But if you don’t there is a 99% chance you are a criminal.

    1. And they can warn potential employers to either fire or not hire the pre-criminal, and they can harass and encourage harassment of the pre-criminal … and it will boost their arrest records too!

      Note: Some jurisdictions already do this against various minorities.

  7. Sure, Congressman Smith; and I have a counterproposal for you. I (and the other 400 million Americans who pay your salary) would like video recordings of every conversation that you (or your staffers) have with lobbyists, constituents, and fellow lawmakers, during your entire term in office. I am sure you will not mind this minor intrusion upon your privacy, since it will show your constituents that you are always acting in their best interests.

    1. yes, this is the part that would make it sensible.  You can look at us, but we can  look at you.   And thats when it really throws it off for “them”.  they assume they are better, have more rights, are smarter wiser.  They are clearly, and demonstrably just another person, but they dont want that…

    2. I’ll sign off on this type of bill (Vic Towes is clumsily trying to manage this in Canada) if all federal politicans agree to perpetual and constant surveillance while they are in office. Yes, that means in your bedroom. You might have a lobbyist in there.

      If you don’t have anything to hide, Lamar, then you have nothing to fear. Isn’t that the kind of sentence your type are coached to trot out when people complain that your corporate-derived pet legislation infringes their fundamental liberties?

  8. Do these people have a brain? No, seriously, I hear so much certifiable idiocy coming from that house of representative and other republican sources, that I find it hard to believe they have ANY cognitive functions beyond eat-sleep-toilet.

    So totally afraid of socialism and becoming a communist state and yet each and every rule or law they think of seems to come straight out of the Kremlin’s “Totalitarian power for dummy’s”.
    So much power and influence, in the hands of a bunch of apparently illiterate children.. Such a complete waste…

  9. Way to go… the summary of this bill is completely incorrect:


    In the name of fighting child pornography, he wants to force ISPs to log everything you do online, then make it available to police and government agents without a warrant.


    The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 would require Internet providers to store the IP addresses they assign to a customer’s Internet-connected devices along with identifying information like the customer’s name, address and the credit card numbers

    That’s… not everything you do online. Hardly. The “without a warrant” part is troubling but ISPs already keep and release this info in response to subpoenas.

      1. This bill requires logging of the IP assigned and the account it is assigned to, not the sites that computer visits.

        This bill is stupid… I don’t see where it does anything but legally require ISPs to do something they already do as protection against civil actions.

        However, the outright ignorance of the commenters here who believe Cory’s every word (and obviously didn’t RTFA) is absolutely astounding.

        1. Or maybe we think the bill is stupid either way.  Or maybe we just trusted Cory to behave like a journalist here (maybe not a particularly good leap of faith, I dunno).  Or maybe (actually this is a definitely) people in the thread haven’t really been discussing the specifics of this bill but rather the greater political context in which the bill is being proposed.

          You’re accusing people of “foaming at the mouth” over this bill. Can you cite even one comment in this thread in which someone is actually doing that?

  10. Frankly, this _demands_ only one response: that Lamar Smith’s complete internet  activity is put online, immediately. I’m sure he has nothing to hide.

    1.  Yep. Make all online activity of all legislators publicly available, in realtime, for the next two years. Then we’ll talk.

  11. Yes, a lot can be determined when you correlate an IP address to customer records, but that is not the same as your ISP “logging everything you do”.

    Question: Who read Cory’s summary and started on a foaming-at-the-mouth comment WITHOUT reading the article? Congrats. You’re behaving exactly like a brain-dead legislator and the people who vote for them: Taking whatever propaganda you hear as the truth.

    Who read the article and realized Cory’s implication that “everything you do will be logged” is nowhere close to the bill in question, according to Leslie Meredith’s writeup and the EFF’s analysis of the bill? It is a complete misinterpretation or fabrication.

    1. Much as I like BB, I’ve learned to take all of Cory’s headlines with more than a little salt. They tend to be incredibly hyperbolic. My guess is that it comes from him being mostly a fiction writer and not a journalist.

      It’s interesting, but it’s pretty easy to identify his headlines (to a better than 90% accuracy, I think), without even looking at the byline (based solely on hyperbole and domain).

      That said, as a civil libertarian I still find the proposed legislation incredibly troubling.

  12. Why stop there?  Mandatory public-access GPS trackers for everyone, and all mail correspondence has to be scanned on its way through the post office/fedex/any carrier.   This is essentially equivalent, right?

    This is the sort of thing that could only be thought a good idea by someone so out of touch that they never actually USE the internet, or who can’t think ahead even a single step.  In this case, I’m betting on both.

  13. Whenever I hear a Republican legislator say “we must force everyone to stop doing [whatever] sexual and/or immoral activity” I usually end up believing that legislator is really saying “I can’t control my compulsion to [whatever] and so society has to make [whatever] impossible”.

    So when I read this, I just instantly leapt to the conclusion that Lamar Smith is a paedophile, and that’s really messed up.  It’s just like the “you are against the drug war so you must be selling illegal addictive drugs” nonsense argument.  I hope I am wrong about Smith.

  14.  How does this realistically fight child predators? By and large such people are caught by internet stings, by being turned in, and their bad search habits discovered after arrest for any sort of  non-virtual crime. Additionally, when the government finds an internet site hosting prohibited materials, they are able to look at who visited that site within some recent window of time. How does expanding that window of time to years really help? It means that the potential pervert has not visited that site for an extended period of time. It means he hasn’t visited any other site being investigated by the government (since then it becomes redundant). It just seems very unlikely that the law will help fight the problem much, if at all.

  15. Is there some way a parliamentary procedure could be used to increment this title by 3 so that the House would call it ‘H.R. 1984’ as they discuss it further?  
    Not that I expect the Fine Big Brother from Texas would recognize the irony, but perhaps Al Franken could ask a colleague in the House to at least make the motion?

  16. We need take under serious consideration the possibility that Lamar Smith is infected with some sort of zombie virus.  What else could rationally explain the zombie legislation?

  17. I’ll show him mine if he shows me his – he can log and view everything I do online as long as I can log and view everything he does. Surely, unless he is a child molester, there will be no reason for him to object?

  18. I think all new oppressive laws should have a test run only on members of congress.
    If that works out, then great.

  19. HA! The US is stealing legislation from Canada now rather than the other way around! So Proud!

    We truly live in Bizarre times…

    I mean this sounds a lot like the Canadian Bill C-30 “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act” which used to be simply called “Lawful Access Act”…

    Which got so much heat and ridicule it will assuredly fail in its present form. Supposedly they are looking at amendments now…

  20. Senator Orrin Hatch suggested the Government blow up a few hundred thousand computers without due process to combat copyright infringement.  Could it really come to this?  Senator Hatch is one of the most outspoken advocates for Government regulation of the Internet.  He co-authored COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act). co-sponsored SOPA/PIPA.  

  21. There doesn’t seem to be any going back to the nice old Internet of sharing information and non-profit webpages.

    Google and other big companies decide what information you can search for and access depending on your location and the information they have already gathered about you. Facebook are selling everything they know about you to the highest bidder.

    Our caring rulers have decided that it is an area they must be in control of for one reason only, the reason being that they didn’t control it. Anything else is an excuse.
    (They could possibly make porn sites themselves so they can justify the need to nosey into everyone’s business.)

    I found on rare occasions of curiousity looking at anything even mildly sexual that these are the places to avoid because of what they do to your computer – not to mention the nausea.

  22. 1) You hate a neighbor named Lamar Smith.
    2) Hack into neighbor’s wifi.
    3) Download evil things.
    4) Watch neighbor go to jail.
    5) Thank Lamar Smith.

  23. HR 1981 does not require Internet Service Providers to collect any information that they do not already have. Many ISPs already retain records of the temporary IP addresses assigned to their customers. And ISPs, like other businesses, retain the name, address and billing information of each of their customers. They use this information to process payments. HR 1981 does not require the collection of any personal information. HR 1981 simply sets a time for how long ISPs retain this information so that law enforcement officials can go after sex predators and child pornographers. Child pornography on the Internet is increasing 150% every year. Privacy protections that are already in place are not changed. Under current law, account information can already be accessed by a court order or subpoena. This bill does not change that process. Telephone companies already are required under current law to retain this same information for 18 months. HR 1981 simply says that ISPs will retain the information for 12 months.

  24. It must be really tough to be a republican these days…

    how can you be for tracking the data of every american online but against gun ownership lists? 

    i used to know what a republican was when I saw one…now they are just a mess of inconsistant ideals hidden under the guise conservatism…

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