November 13, 2011

Now *THIS* is Something to Protest About

Patrick Laverty

In my wish that more people would pay attention to the "little things" that our government does, I wish they'd see things like this happening and react accordingly.

On Friday, the US House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would require all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to track all online activity for all of their customers. According to an article on, ISPs would be

required to store to include customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses

How do you feel about that? Why not just invite the FBI into your house to sit down with you at the computer and ask them permission to use your computer?

Why is the House doing this? The title of the bill is "PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM INTERNET PORNOGRAPHERS ACT OF 2011." Makes sense right? When trying to chase down child pornographers, authorities could then figure out where the sites are that people get this stuff, where they trade the files and then simply track the IP addresses back to the people and arrest them. I mean, who could possibly be opposed to hunting down child pornographers and pedophiles?

If only that's all it was. Some amendments were offered such as making the data only to law enforcement agencies working on a child pornography case. That was rejected. Other amendments were offered and shot down, including limiting the subpoena powers to only enforcement agencies working on a specific child pornography case. That was rejected. An amendment was offered to give additional funds to the FBI for working on child pornography cases, that too was rejected. As Rep Jon Conyers stated, this bill is "mislabeled". Rep Zoe Lofgren offered one last amendment, to change the title of this bill to the

"Keep Every American's Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act of 2011."
That too was rejected.

CNet added:

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.

So let's assume for one millisecond that we can trust the government, we can trust every law enforcement agency to use this data properly and that all judges will only give out orders to access the data in cases that fit the intent. (Hang on while I get up off the floor and stop laughing...) But let's use that assumption. If you have all this data stored somewhere that tells credit card information, bank account information tied to the person who owns it and their address, isn't this some pretty valuable information? Anyone heard of "Anonymous" and the other associated hacker groups? This is exactly the type of treasure trove that those people will go after. As little faith that we have that the data would only be used appropriately, I have even less faith that the data would be completely safe and protected from compromise. Heck, we can't even keep our military drones safe from software infection. If remote-controlled and armed aircraft aren't perfectly safe from hacking attack, why would trillions of lines of data in logs be safe?

Lastly, maybe one of the most disappointing parts of this is who the sponsor is. Lamar Hunt of Texas. It isn't who the person is that makes this so disappointing, the disappointment is his party, Republican. The party of smaller government and leave citizens alone and respect privacy.

Below is how the committee vote went to pass this bill out of committee, 19-10.

Smith (R) X
Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R) X
Coble (R) X
Gallegly (R) X
Goodlatte (R) X
Lungren (R) X
Chabot (R) X
Issa (R) X
Pence (R)
Forbes (R) X
King (R) X
Franks (R) X
Gohmert (R)
Jordan (R)
Poe (R)
Chaffetz (R) X
Griffin (R) X
Marino (R) X
Gowdy (R) X
Ross (R) X
Adams (R) X
Quayle (R)
Conyers, Jr. (D) X
Berman (D) X
Nadler (D) X
Scott (D) X
Watt (D) X
Lofgren (D) X
Jackson Lee (D) X
Waters (D) X
Cohen (D)
Johnson (D) X
Pierluisi (D) X
Quigley (D) X
Chu (D)
Deutch (D) X
Sanchez (D)
Wasserman Schultz (D)
Total 19 10

This is exactly the type of bill that all citizens should be worried about, with regard to government overreach, government intrusion into the privacy of every citizen, treating everyone like a criminal. I'm hoping and believe that this bill will actually go nowhere and while the initial committee vote looks a little partisan, there were votes on both sides of the bill on both sides of the aisle. I'm thinking this one will go nowhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But just in case, this might be a good one to "contact your Representative today" about. Say no to Big Brother, say yes to privacy.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Oh Patrick, you don't know how happy you make me today. I'm extremely glad to see that a conservative such as yourself sees this bill for what it is: an attempt by the government to use private industry to spy on its citizenry. And they always use the same excuse, don't they?

"But if we don't do this, who will protect the children?"

Um, how about their parents? You know, those folks who have the legal right to choose what their kids can and can not view online? Those full-grown adults who the government says are perfectly capable of *having* children... but maybe not as capable of *raising* children? Utter Orwellian nonsense.

You are right in thinking that this bill will die in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee, but still -- I agree everyone here who sees this bill for what it is should contact their representatives AND Senators (Mr. Whitehouse happens to sit on the committee in question), and let them know that you are indeed for a smaller government that respects personal privacy.

If there's ONE area in which we (progressives and moderate conservatives) can work together, this is it. You may be interested to know that David Segal's own "Demand Progress" organization is hot on the trail of this bill as well: -- should you choose to add your name to their petition against passage.

Seriously Patrick... thanks very much for making this post. This is combination of big government and big business coming together will act restrict the rights of individual citizens in the worst way possible. We can't let it happen.

Some Democrats and some Republicans are against this bill, just as some Democrats and some Republicans are for this bill. Perhaps that should tell us something about party labels, and give us pause to reconsider who is working for our interests and who is not on a case-by-base-basis.

If anyone from the RI delegation votes for this bill (and I doubt they will, thankfully), I would hope folks from AR, RIF, and everyone in-between would work to make sure that person was never elected to office in The Ocean State again.

Posted by: jparis at November 13, 2011 6:05 PM

Gosh,I answered this and hit the wrong button I guess, so it didn't show up. Repeating some of that post.

Patrick,keep your chin up. Don't get demoralized.

jparis,I'm glad to see you standing up for parental rights. That means,doesn't it,that you support the right of parents to opt their children out of public school sex education classes?

Your support of parental rights also must mean support of the largely ignored part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prevents the government from stopping the free exercise of religion. So therefore,the mention of God and prayer in public schools is okay with you,right? Because you are for the parental rights of people who think prayer in public schools is okay. Right?

What if parents think that artificial contraception and abortion are wrong and don't want their children to be be taught differently in the public schools which they fund? You agree with that?

jparis,I don't know why you would be suprised about what Patrick said in his post. Maybe you have a false impression of people who hold conservative beliefs.

Posted by: helen at November 13, 2011 8:53 PM

Also,jparis,the mingling of government with private business is Fascism.

Posted by: helen at November 13, 2011 8:58 PM

No more going crazy when I forget a password, I can just call the FBI.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 13, 2011 9:01 PM

Reminds of the inception if Homeland Security. We on the Audi "Quattro List" decided to drop the term "bomb" for the hydraulic pressure accumulator.

Although I now forget the name, there is a web site that you can go to to get the info collected about you on the web. I went there once and here is what I found out about myself; 89 year old single woman, two children living at home, living in North Attleboro, MA and driving a Porsche 911. There were 10 pages of what seemed to be nonsense. Not a lot of accuracy there, I hope the FBI does better.

It is already possible, for a small fee ($14.95?), to obtain a listing of our name, DOB, prior addresses, room mates, neighbors, probable relatives, criminal record, etc.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 13, 2011 9:10 PM


What happened? Anything you can share beyond what you've said here?

Posted by: helen at November 13, 2011 9:23 PM

@ Helen: I wasn't at all surprised to see a post by Patrick on this subject in terms of what I've witnessed his general political views to be, but I was surprised in that Anchor Rising (by design) generally sticks to Rhode Island-specific topics... Justin has said this to me before, and I have no problem with it. So no, I don't think this topic is out-of-character at all -- I'm just happy to see it being addressed here (whereas the most recent post on RIF I read was a press release from the Taveras administration).

As to parental rights? Can parents opt-out their kids from Math too? What about science, if they don't believe in evolution? We've seen how that went down in Kansas. Can Spanish-speaking parents opt their kids out of English class if they are legal immigrants?

I think there's a pretty huge difference between taking over parental responsibilities in the home (censorship of media, "protecting" kids for the parents with the notion that somehow parents can't do this themselves), and providing a sound learning environment based upon a curriculum developed by a great many professionals who have dedicated their lives to such work.

The mention of God in public schools also happens to infringe upon my kids' right to practice freedom of religion. I don't believe in your concept of an anthropomorphic god, and by forcing it upon my kids in public school, you're denying me my right to have them practice religion (or a lack there of) as I see fit. I have no problem with you teaching your children about said God in whatever way you see fit -- I just don't want it forced upon my kids.

Parents can believe, or think whatever they want... and they have the right to teach their children those beliefs or thoughts, and have even been afforded the option of sending their children to religious schooling or home-schooling, should they deem public schooling to be inadequate to the task.

However, just because you pay taxes doesn't mean you have the right to decide a public curriculum. What if I pay taxes and have a kid in the school system and I want your kids to thank The Great Spaghetti Monster for their daily bread in public school? Do I have that right?

Again, I point to the opt-out clause that is alternative education. I don't want parents to feel we are forcing this evil thing called "science" upon their children... if they want out, they know where the door is.

Interestingly enough, you may find it out-of-character that I have *never* thought it was public schools' jobs to teach sex-ed. Outside of a biological coverage of reproductive organs, I see no place for it in a STEM-based curriculum. That is a place for parents' discretion, and I'll always back you on the idea that kids shouldn't be forced into a sex-ed program of *any* kind (contraception, abstinence, and anything else included).

Also, I know what fascism is... did I somehow lead you to believe that I didn't? I've been holding back on the usage of that term due to its extremely dark history. We may be getting there though. It scares me greatly.

Why I get into these conversations with you Helen... your bait is so obvious, but it's just so darned tasty!

Posted by: jparis at November 13, 2011 9:32 PM

I'm not sure how being in favor of this bill is a "conservative" stance unless that's seen as being in favor of law enforcement and going after pedophiles. I'd agree with that, and I'd agree with any bill that is simply going after pedophiles. The problem is when it far overreaches, like this one does.

Warrington, I've seen sites like the one you mention. Most of the info that they offer is simply aggregated from various public sources. This bill would go way beyond anything that any of those sites do. This would keep a history of your online activity and keep information like bank accounts. That's simply crazy. If anyone is keeping a repository of that info, that's where the hackers will go.

To quote the great bank robber Willie Sutton on why he robbed banks, "Because that's where the money is."

Posted by: Patrick at November 13, 2011 10:17 PM

Yes,jparis,I suppose as a patriot,not a member of the the Tea Party,but a sympathizer,I'm very delicious and nutritious. Enjoy!

Your post is very long. I will try to condense and answer the things I find most important,being mindful of space here.

jparis,you must be honest in that you sounded in your post suprised at Patrick's remarks. You expressed joy and tried to co-opt his remarks for your political beliefs.

As for your arguements about parents opting their children out of specific classes like Math or Science,I think you are way off base. In general,people want their children to have good educations. Some people might object to
the teaching of secular evolution. They have just as much right as those who believe in it. That is a serious social conflict of our time.

Now,you mention a group of people who speak a language which is not the common language of our country.

Some of my grandparents didn't speak English as their first language. My cousins and I were taught that we are Americans and that we should speak English in all public venues. So no,I wouldn't say it's educationally or culturally proper for Spanish speaking parents to opt their children out of English classes.

Further,that is not a deep religious issue such as the teaching of secular sex education in our public schools. That infringes on people's rights that are protected by the first amendment.

About the religious issue of mentioning God and prayer in public schools,the first amendment is very clear. Your children can participate or not,but the right of people to freely exercise their religious beliefs is protected by the first amendment.

The first amendment also lays waste to "free speech zones" in any public setting,including institutions of higher learning.

Some people,oppressed by onerous taxation,cannot afford to send their children to private school or homeschool.

Just because you pay taxes doesn't give you the right to infringe on other people's rights either.

I don't recall ever descending into the insult to people's religious beliefs such that I would call their thanks to God as tribute to the "Spaghetti Monster". Believe or don't,that's your choice. It's cruel and petty to make such an insult.

Okay,I'm skipping a bit not. Glad you agree about Fascism.

Hope you really understand about that and Communism. The Occupation in Chicago had Communist Bill Ayers,who wanted to kill millions of people in this country as a speaker. The Occupation in Philadelphia had Angela Davis,a former Communist Party USA,candidate for office and Communist revolutionary. Look them both up if you are too young to remember.

Posted by: helen at November 13, 2011 10:21 PM

Posted by helen

What happened? Anything you can share beyond what you've said here?"

Helen not sure what you are questioning. As to the web site with accumulated info about me, I don't recall the name. I simply linked to it from a discussion on the web about such things. I can't say a bit of it was correct. I understand this is collected for sale to web advertisers. If the info in no better than what they had on me, I wouldn't pay for it. I did notice one reference to "roofing" in there. I assume this resulted from a question I posted on Bob Villa's web site about roofing. I was besieged by roofing ads and offers for quite a while after that.

As to the $14.95 fee service, just Google the name of almost anyone you know. It will probably return a web site which offers the info I described for a fee. Rhode Island criminal records are available on line
at the RI Judiciary web site.

I realize that the new law goes far beyond what I am speaking about. Naturally, I oppose it. Judging by the amendments offered and rejected, I doubt the true purpose has anything to do with child pornography. I think it is a simply a case that in the "information age", the government cannot abide with the possibility that there is anything they don't know, or cannot obtain. I fear that we will accept it. Just as we now accept that NSA and HS intercept our telephone calls. there was a short lived furor about that, and reviewing library "borrowings", but now it is hardly mentioned.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 13, 2011 10:36 PM

"that you support the right of parents to opt their children out of public school sex education classes?"

As far as I know, you CAN opt your children out of sex-ed classes here in Rhode Island, here's the law:

"largely ignored part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prevents the government from stopping the free exercise of religion. So therefore,the mention of God and prayer in public schools is okay with you,right?"

Helen, there's no ban on the mention of God in public schools. The first amendment and established case law say that the government can't -endorse- a religion or religiosity itself. You can teach a class on religion if you want. It's also been established time and again that it's perfectly fine for students and teachers to pray in school; what's not OK is leading a class in prayer (because that's not free exercise, it's endorsement). If you want Group Prayer in public schools, you can start a student group and meet during activity period, just like the rocket club or the chess team.

"What if parents think that artificial contraception and abortion are wrong and don't want their children to be be taught differently in the public schools which they fund?"

Then you can opt them out of our abstinence-preferred sex education and teach them your own stuff. Heck, the curriculum that's being used in Providence Public Schools is so bad, I wish I could opt my niece out of their brain-dead Math program.

Posted by: mangeek at November 14, 2011 8:56 AM

Thank you for that information,mangeek. I didn't know that. There have been situations in other states where parents got in trouble when they objected to material presented to their children in school.
Still,though,mention of God in public schools seems to remain controversial.

Posted by: helen at November 14, 2011 9:33 AM

jparis,I hope you don't mind if I share some of my thoughts and beliefs with you here.

I believe that whether you believe in God or not,you are a child of God. You were created as a free human being,you have free will. That means you can have faith or not. You can chose between good and evil. Just like the old song goes,you were born free,japaris.

I was taught that we are all created in the image and likeness of God,so I guess that's where the anthropomorphic part comes in,eh?

Because you are a free human being endowed with free will,I would say that you have natural,God given rights. They don't come from words on a piece of paper,or the government,or whichever group makes the most ruckus to get what they want. That is why your God given rights are inalienable.

jparis,I might tease a bit every now and then,but I am not a baiter. I'm just too old and serious to get into silly conversations based on baiting.

Posted by: helen at November 14, 2011 9:55 AM

My apologies for accusing you of "baiting" then Helen... it's quite obvious that I've become a bit old and jaded (at least in political blog terms), so I do sincerely apologize for that comment.

As for the rest, belief is belief and faith is faith. I won't ever try to be so hubristic as to try and argue such things. Mangeek made my point far better than I did the other evening in pointing out the difference between allowing for the free expression of religion and directly endorsing a singular religion.

As for the language issue? We still have no Federal laws with respect to the establishment of English as our primary language. Now I was definitely acting as devil's advocate in that I too am a 2nd-generation American whose grandparents did learn English, and I'm both happy and proud they did. I was just pointing out that absent any laws to the contrary, it seems equally reasonable that a parent would want to pull their child out of English class as much as they would evolution-based Biology class.

There's actually a psuedo-religion out there called "Pastafarianism" -- so if it makes you feel any better, the choice of a Flying Spaghetti Monster as a deity was not mine:

Point being, choosing any singular deity for a morning prayer in a secular school breaks the First Amendment's clause against the establishment of a state religion.

And I certainly don't think it would be controversial to mention Christian God in the context of a comparative religion class -- but then again, maybe there are those who disagree.

Posted by: jparis at November 14, 2011 12:05 PM

Let's be precise. The only thing standing in the way of holding morning prayers in schools is the Supreme Court, not the Constitution. The First Amendment states in part "Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion . . ." The local school board is not Congress and morning prayers is not an establishment of religion. Establishment refers to a state setting up an official church supported by the taxes and laws of that state, like the Church of England where the monarch, acting through the government, appoints the bishops that govern the church. However the Supreme Court long ago decided that it was not bound by anything as silly as the language of the Constitution and set out to make its own rules; so that's what were stuck with.

Posted by: David P at November 14, 2011 5:00 PM

"The local school board is not Congress"

True, and that always bothered me too, until I read about how the whole constitutional 'congress' came to mean 'every governing body in the land'. There used to be official religions of some states, and even state-mandated tithing in some!

"morning prayers are not an establishment of religion"

As an atheist, the idea of having prayers forced on me at school is deeply frightening. School isn't optional, and no compulsory activity should have that kind of restriction on it. Are secular schools really a bad thing? I think the current interpretation of 'establishment' is right-on, it protects the rights of religious minorities and helps keep church and state untangled and mutually unencumbered.

Part of me wants to say that we SHOULD go back to the strictest interpretation of 'congress shall make no law', but with Americans being so fervently and militantly religious, I don't think there would be any place that I'd feel comfortable bringing a child to school. I have no doubt that even if there were regions of majority atheists, Muslims, or Jews, there would be Christian sects who felt strongly enough to 'move in and vote' in order to deny us our secular local government. I'd rather it didn't come to that.

Posted by: mangeek at November 14, 2011 6:05 PM

You make some valid arguments against holding morning prayers in public schools but they are policy arguments to be directed at the duly constituted authorities in charge of the schools. Even if the consequences of school prayer were as damaging as you suggest, it is far more dangerous to permit nine unaccountable lawyers to rewright the country's basic law at a whim.

Posted by: David P at November 14, 2011 6:16 PM
It isn't who the person is that makes this so disappointing, the disappointment is his party, Republican. The party of smaller government and leave citizens alone and respect privacy.

Yes, who could have proposed such an affront to liberty? These ideas simply come out of thin air. I can only wonder. Ahem...

"Bush Administration to Propose System for Monitoring Internet"

The Bush administration is planning to propose requiring Internet service providers to help build a centralized system to enable broad monitoring of the Internet and, potentially, surveillance of its users.

Glad to see at least one actual conservative writing over here, but wake up, Patrick. That Republican Party is long, long gone.

Posted by: Russ at November 15, 2011 1:36 PM

Russ, the who? The Bush Administration? Is he still the president?

I go on the record and bash someone like Lamar Smith for a stupid bill and you somehow wrap that back to Bush? C'mon man, I often try to give you the benefit of the doubt here.

Posted by: Patrick at November 15, 2011 1:56 PM

Sorry, forgot 2002 was sooo long ago. Who can even remember back then?

"Terrorism invoked in ISP snooping proposal"

In a radical departure from earlier statements, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said that requiring Internet service providers to save records of their customers' online activities is necessary in the fight against terrorism, CNET has learned. Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller privately met with representatives of AOL, Comcast, Google, Microsoft and Verizon last week and said that Internet providers--and perhaps search engines--must retain data for two years to aid in anti-terrorism prosecutions, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussion who spoke on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.

"We want this for terrorism," Gonzales said, according to one person familiar with the discussion.

Gonzales' earlier position had only emphasized how mandatory data retention would help thwart child exploitation.

In a speech last month at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Gonzales said that Internet providers must retain records to aid investigations of criminals "abusing kids and sending images of the abuse around the world through the Internet."

Let's remember that this law itself is in response to the illegal snooping done by the NSA during that time so long ago.

"Illegal NSA Wiretapping Program Involved Data-Mining"

Didn't realize this one was already relegated to the memory hole over here. Never mind. Go back to talking about prayer in school if you like.

Posted by: Russ at November 15, 2011 4:16 PM
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