Wil Wheaton (Wesley from Star Trek) wrote an entry in his blog the other day about the current state of our government. This got me to thinking and I thought I’d toss out my thoughts as well. This is the first political statement I’ve made in this blog and I’m hoping it doesn’t become a habit..
I don’t much like politics and I try to avoid it whenever I can, but sometimes it’s necessary to dive in for a short time. Our country was founded on a few important principles. I’m sure you’ve heard them before, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The first congress did everything in their power to create a stable, secure government. But, they knew that nothing is perfect and put in provisions to allow for changes to the founding principles. Since that time our government has been progressing ever forward towards the very form of government that we seek to eradicate.
The September 11th tragedy is being manipulated and twisted in ever more horrible ways as our government seeks to strip us of our liberties, all in the name of security. From illegal wiretapping to prisoner torture. And now they seek to make both of these things legal! For example, our illustrious president is seeking to have a bill passed to allow warrantless wiretapping. Thus far, this bill is intended to allow wiretapping only for suspected terrorist activities, but once the door is open… *sigh* With cries of “protect the USA” and “think about the children”, the government seeks to strip us of our rights and create what is essentially a police state…
Other liberties are at risk as well. Are you aware that the government is currently seeking to pass a bill that forces ISPs across the US to keep detailed records of all internet activity? We’re talking more than just the standard radius records that are used to tie a user and IP together. This bill seeks to force ISPs to keep records of IM conversations, web browsing, email, and anything else they can use to “fight child pornography.” I work for an ISP and I can’t figure this out. They want this data recorded in advance of any wrongdoing. In other words, guilty until proven innocent. All they need is a warrant to go digging through all that data! I’m sure it will start out with a warrant that specifies exact IP addresses and time frames, but that will quickly change. I’ve had to deal with warrants that are very vague about what they want. In other words, give me EVERYTHING that deals with this IP between these two times. And, of course, if they find anything else out during their legal search then they can act on that. Imagine what can happen if they suspect a pedophile used your system between 1am and 4am on Saturday, but they don’t know the exact IP. And then they ask for everything between those times! Imagine the possibilities. Perfectly innocent people are at risk here!
“Well think of the children!” Yes, lets. I will agree that if the data is already available, it may be quicker to pull a predator off the streets. However, we’re dealing with child pornography here. Most of these cases deal with people downloading the porn. In that case, it’s safe to assume that they will do it again. Getting a warrant that asks the ISP to capture the data for a period of time is perfectly valid at that point. Besides, most ISPs retain logs for at least a week anyway. This is done purely for statistical and debugging purposes, but that should be plenty of time to get a warrant. Or, try this one out. How about creating something specific to the computer industry called a suspicion warrant. When served with one of these, the ISP starts collecting data. That data is not available to the police force until a “real” warrant is obtained via the court system. This at least gives the police a chance to save any data that may be rolled off after a period of time. Again, this is something I would be more than happy to do for the police if it helps get these predators off the street.
Well, enough ranting. The long and short is this. The government is trying to steal away our liberties, all in the name of good causes. And put that way, it makes you look like the bad guy if you don’t agree and fight against it. But please, if you truly care about this country and the freedoms you have, look hard at the issues. Vote in the next election and make your voice heard. I won’t tell you who to vote for, and beyond the above, I won’t even hint at it. Just get out there. Do a little research, and make your voice heard!