Help the police
February 22, 2009 4:45 AM   Subscribe

"Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations." To be fair, it's not just Republicans who like this idea.
posted by Kirth Gerson (60 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
But it will keep our children safe. Who doesn't want to keep our children safe?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:47 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suspect that, per capita, more children are abused by Republican Congressman than by internet strangers...
posted by HuronBob at 4:57 AM on February 22, 2009 [60 favorites]


Wouldn't this require a whole new generation of consumer WiFi devices? The unit I use at home doesn't have the capacity to capture (or pass on to another device) that much log data...I'm pretty sure the internal log rolls over after less than 24 hours.

If so, and if the law came to pass, would people then be busted for the crime of owning obsolete electronics?
posted by Construction Concern at 4:59 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is... I mean... for the love of...
I... I don't even know how to respond to this. Everyone with a Wi-Fi AP would have to keep "records"? Records of WHAT? Every MAC address that connects to the AP? Do you think Senator Pigfucker even knows what a MAC address is? How could this possibly "aid police investigations"? How could this possibly even be used for the purposes of combating child pornography, as if that's the real intention? How could they even use these "records" for the real purpose behind the bill, which is to spy on people and invade our privacy? How could a log of every MAC address that connects to an access point even be used for anything? These barnyard rapists want to spy on us, but luckily they appear to be too fucking ignorant to even know how to do it properly.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:59 AM on February 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


I suspect that, per capita, more children are abused by Republican Congressman than by internet strangers...

Now, now, be fair. They're self-hating closeted homosexuals, not pedophiles. That's not the same thing, even though they themselves say it is when they rail against "gay teachers molesting our sons" in between sessions of furtive, hateful, anonymous bottoming in public restrooms.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:03 AM on February 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Privacy is the ultimate enemy of theocracy. They desire a world with no walls, no borders -- not so that information can be free -- but so that everyone can be scrutinized and intimidated into silence. (Think about how 19 states have virtually unenforcable laws against oral sex).

If it's true that information is going to be free no matter what and that our privacy is doomed anyway, then we need to work towards a society where nobody can be intimidated by having our dirty laundry aired in public.

It's not going to be easy. A truly free society without privacy is going to mean that I will have to be comfortable with my penchant for zoo sex being a matter of public record. It'll mean that you will have to be comfortable with it too. Or at least not deny me a job or benefits because of it.

Anything less would mean a dictatorship of public opinion. A world without privacy is a world of pure homogeneity where everybody likes Coldplay, everybody is straight and nobody hates their parents because the alternative would be suicide.
posted by Avenger at 5:08 AM on February 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Isn't this just like the bill to make all cameras go click? No co-sponsors and no real support among the congressional ranks, no real chance it will go anywhere other than garner some weak-sauce publicity for the sponsor. I'm temped to think this is a "nothing to see her, move along" kind of thing.

more children are abused by Republican Congressman than by internet strangers...
Yeah, but most internet strangers are Republican.
posted by sexymofo at 5:16 AM on February 22, 2009


a world ... where everybody likes Coldplay

That is the most terrifying dystopian future scenario I have ever heard. I'd rather eat Soylent Green sammiches while Roy Batty kicks the shit out of me.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:17 AM on February 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


I'd rather eat Soylent Green sammiches while Roy Batty kicks the shit out of me.

Guess what...
posted by kid ichorous at 5:21 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's like somebody in congress learned what a MAC address is last week.

Next week: MAC spoofing.

Sometimes, I wish we could endow the Clue Patrol with powers of arrest.

"Sorry sir, but you clearly don't have a clue. You'll have to come with us."
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:24 AM on February 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


So they're gonna make a criminal out of me because I don't have the slightest idea how to keep records of the names of the computers that have linked to my cute little Airport Express? I don't think such a thing is even possible, and if it were, I'd have no interest in complying. I s'pose they may only be talking about "public" wifi spots, but still, your average coffee house owner with a cute lil Airport Express is going to be in the same boat as me.

This has got to die in committee, it seems, since it's unenforceable. Right?
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:52 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suspect that, per capita, more children are abused by Republican Congressman than by internet strangers...

I always wondered where Young Republicans come from.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:52 AM on February 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Republican delegation to congress really doesn't miss any opportunity to be complete dicks do they? They seem to wake up in the morning thinking, "How big of a dick can I be today?" I really hope that Obama (and Pelosi and Reid) have learned their lesson with the bailout and will completely ignore these idiots in the future.
posted by octothorpe at 5:53 AM on February 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Absolute privacy is a myth, and railing against the terms of being "on the grid" seems just a little hypocritical. [insert obligatory speech about enjoying the benefits of society and accepting some of the rules established to maintain functionality of said complex society]. I agree with Avenger that it could be embarassing to have my internet wanderings logged somewhere for 2 years; but--given the number of logins around the country every hour and the fact that I'm an otherwise "decent," law-abiding citizen--should I really worry about that data becoming a reportable piece of information consumed by my neighbors, fellow PTA members or employer? Frankly, I assumed all of this activity was recorded anyway.
posted by njbradburn at 5:55 AM on February 22, 2009


In a move that may have led to broader interest inside the United States, the European Parliament last December approved such a requirement for Internet, telephone and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers.

Do not want. Sorry, Congress, but law enforcement's inability to protect everyone from everything bad doesn't give them privileges with two years worth of my phone calls.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:56 AM on February 22, 2009


Next week: MAC spoofing.

There's a bill to criminalize that, too.
"Section C, Title 32, Paragraph ix of the United States Unified Statutes shall be amended to include the following paragraph:

It shall be a class B felony for a user to change, modify, falsify, or remove any identification number associated with a computer network interface."
But, I'm with you on the clue patrol. I even think they should have powers of summary execution.

"No, I'm very sorry ma'am. But, your husband did spill the toner cartridge all over the office floor for the third time [true story]. And this was after we chose to overlook his membership on fark, as well as his use of Microsoft Vista. Here are his effects, aside from his Visual Basic pocket reference, which is on the Fucking Stupid Books List."
posted by Netzapper at 6:01 AM on February 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Surely this...
posted by Mick at 6:02 AM on February 22, 2009


Well given the sheer amount of information that would have to be retained, I doubt this will have much practical effect on those awful pedophiles, and also, I don't know what kind of effect it will have on my privacy since I'd be a bery small fish in a universe sized pond.

I wonder if guys like Mueller are now lobbyists for some data mining company that will make money off of this. Cui bono as the conspiracy theorists say.

Plus the value of adding some sort of charge to pressure some perv out in the sticks to plead guilty to something can't be brushed off.
posted by xetere at 6:10 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


They should just make computers that are also firearms. Republicans will never demand registration or records ever again.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:18 AM on February 22, 2009 [38 favorites]


It's a non-story at the moment, with it being just a newly proposed bill. As the article points out similar proposals have been made in the past and they never went anywhere, and I don't see this one going anywhere either. I'm sure there's some site out there that tracks all the seriously batshitinsane things that get to the point of being proposed as bills but then die in committee. In fact neither S.436 nor H.R.1076 have any cosponsors so it looks like this is just a pair of Texas Republicans bloviating for a talking point.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:26 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]



Fortunately the issues of Iraq, Afghanistan, medical care and the economy have all been resolved. Now congress can move on to more pressing problems.
posted by notreally at 6:27 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, nobody's going to afford wifi in two years.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 6:45 AM on February 22, 2009


Needs batshitinsane tag.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:46 AM on February 22, 2009


There's a bill to criminalize that, too.

"Section C, Title 32, Paragraph ix of the United States Unified Statutes shall be amended to include the following paragraph:

It shall be a class B felony for a user to change, modify, falsify, or remove any identification number associated with a computer network interface."


Holy shit. They realize that as worded this includes IP addresses, right? They're want to criminalize ifconfig?

Not to mention that there are perfectly good reasons to use MAC spoofing that don't involve intrusion or fraud, etc.

Numbskulls.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:55 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe they can just build the taser into the WiFi appliances and we can get randomly tasered, that would help the police--they can't be everywhere.
posted by RussHy at 7:04 AM on February 22, 2009


Obviously, people can't manage the logging themselves. The technical solution is a Fink Chip™ in every router that does all the logging for you and uploads it weekly to a central government database.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:05 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


This, from the party that brought you deregulation of the banking system?
posted by deCadmus at 7:08 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a new theory about government: if the bill's name is a cute acronym, vote against it.
posted by ook at 7:10 AM on February 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


You know, there's obviously so much that's wrong with this. Ultimately, though, I think this is the ultimate triumph of politics == business.

It seems that there is absolutely no hesitation, whether it be Democrats or Republicans, for *always* proposing something that is twice as much as it needs to be, in the hopes that they get half.

Need 500 million for something? Ask for a billion and bargain your way to what you really need. Want some internet protection regulations? Ask for the moon and assume you'll get half of what you asked for.

This is standard practice when you're haggling for something in the market or making a hot business deal. The fact that this mentality has completely pervaded politics cannot be a good thing in any way, shape or form.
posted by jeremias at 7:12 AM on February 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


So let me let this right: when talking about gun registration the Repubs go nuts talking about privacy and states rights but all of that is out the window when it comes to the internet. And all because these good god-fearing Repubs are concerned about my pornz.

I wish there was a federal office of hypocrisy that would tar and feather every congressman that opened their mouth with money-wasting shit like this.
posted by photoslob at 7:19 AM on February 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Beware the Four Horsemen of the Information Apocalypse: terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. Seems like you can scare any public into allowing the government to do anything with those four."
posted by Afroblanco at 7:29 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


photoslob, that's because guns have been around long enough that the morons in Congress understand them. Remember the story about how fucked the White House infrastructure was when the Obama team moved in? Nobody in the government seems to have a damn clue about computers, really.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:32 AM on February 22, 2009


There's a bill to criminalize that, too.
"Section C, Title 32, Paragraph ix of the United States Unified Statutes shall be amended to include the following paragraph:


Yup. If not the outright point, the consequence of this thicket of laws is that overwhelming charges (and sentences) can be stacked against an accused. It's no wonder that over ninety percent of defendants simply waive their right to a fair trial and accept a plea:

Evidence of sentencing disparity visited on those who exercise their Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury is today stark, brutal, and incontrovertible. Today, under the Sentencing Guidelines regime with its vast shift of power to the Executive, that disparity has widened to an incredible 500 percent. As a practical matter his means, as between two similarly situated defendants, that if the one who pleads and cooperates gets a four-year sentence, then the guideline sentence for the one who exercises is right to trial by jury and is convicted will be 20 years. (Cato, PDF)
posted by kid ichorous at 7:33 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is very funny that the same gang of thieves who supported Bush and his deletion or obscuring or hiding of key information and kept it from the scrutiny of proper authorities now wants this!
posted by Postroad at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


How convenient for so many people here to forget a similar bill proposed by the Democrats 3 years ago, despite a link in the FPP, or the voting record of RIAA shill Biden.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:10 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Needs batshitinsane tag.
Needs a "ItalyHasAlreadyDoneSomethingSimilarToStop!Terrar!" synonym tag.
/still makes my blood boil. Dumb fuckers probably wouldn't know what an email was if it bit them in the ass.

posted by romakimmy at 8:26 AM on February 22, 2009


How convenient for so many people here to forget a similar bill proposed by the Democrats 3 years ago, despite a link in the FPP, or the voting record of RIAA shill Biden.

Please indicate evidence of this absence of outrage.
posted by butterstick at 8:39 AM on February 22, 2009


Do you think Senator Pigfucker even knows what a MAC address is?

It is safe to say that John Cornyn cannot distinguish a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from a live beagle more than 52% of the time, even when the beagle is humping his leg.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:39 AM on February 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


You would be hard pressed to find somebody who doesn't want more safety, or to feel safe. Increased security? Sure. As long as you're not stepping all over my rights man! So what's really wrong with more video cameras watching street traffic or recordings of "web traffic"(electronic traffic, library, etc.)? A lot of people will come out and say "Hey, it's my privacy and I got a right to my privacy!" Fantastic. I'm not going to address the right to privacy or the idea that we have more allowances of privacy (not alone-ness, although you could arrange this if you really wanted to) than we've had in the past. Because it's when people say things like "Well I have nothing to hide." and "If you're not doing anything wrong then you shouldn't have anything to hide." that is faulty and should be addressed. Because it's not necessarily the information they have, it's what they could do with it. So, unless we do end up with a( highly unlikely) society without judgment as Avenger suggests, then it is a problem and we should fight to keep our privacy even if we are "decent and upstanding citizens." Coercion is real, it happens all the time.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:21 AM on February 22, 2009


But it will keep our children safe. Who doesn't want to keep our children safe?

Children, Schmildren
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]




Don't worry gang, hope and change are in the White House.
posted by codswallop at 9:49 AM on February 22, 2009


My husband works for AT&T's public wifi group. If this goes anywhere, which I hope it doesn't, it will be very interesting to see how they try to implement it on the back end.

(And, sorry, but I voted for Rick Noriega.)
posted by immlass at 9:50 AM on February 22, 2009


Don't worry gang, hope and change are in the White House.

Isn't this about Congress? Good on you to get that in there, though. Sweet.
posted by inigo2 at 9:53 AM on February 22, 2009


Help the Police, previously.
posted by box at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2009


Isn't this about Congress? Good on you to get that in there, though. Sweet.

Well it's not a law unless the president signs it or has a veto overridden.

So, I mean it's maybe a little relevant.
posted by codswallop at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2009


This reminds me of IP address portability through judicial fiat, and this plan, if it passes, will be about as enforceable as that court decisions (in other words, not at all). Congress is pretty much powerless here.
posted by oaf at 10:24 AM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Congress is pretty much powerless here.

That's pretty much irrelevant, actually.
Look...the Republicans know a bill like this is DOA. They know it's unworkable. That isn't the point of this bill and the umpeen-gagillion other such bills that they are likely to introduce over the coming months/years. They want it to fail. It's all about having something to hit "Obama's liberal, Democrat-controlled Congress" over the head with in the runup to the next election cycles...

"The Obama/Pelosi-run liberal Congress stood in the way of vital legislation that would safeguard your children from dangerous internet predators. Send Bob Bigmorals to Congress to help stop the liberal protection of child predators."

Or something like that.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Howard Johnson Thorzdad is right. It's probably hopefully just a ploy. Although, with the news as to how overblown internet child predation was, it makes one wonder if the entire thing weren't created to be such a wedge issue in the first place. What's that you say? You want to introduce me to a "Mr. Karl Rove?"
posted by JHarris at 11:33 AM on February 22, 2009


"Section C, Title 32, Paragraph ix of the United States Unified Statutes shall be amended to include the following paragraph:

It shall be a class B felony for a user to change, modify, falsify, or remove any identification number associated with a computer network interface."



Well, I mean, I'm not changing or falsifying my MAC address...I'm just changing what everyone sees it as. That little barcode sticker is still there after all!
posted by niles at 12:10 PM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll take politicians who claim to be trying to help children seriously when I know of clear an unequivocal instances where they've done unsensational things like feed kids who are hungry, or get them medical and dental care. Until then they're just rabble-rousing panderers.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2009


Following the money, it would appear that if this legislation became law, millions of wifi
access points would go off, instantly. This would benefit the sellers of 3G network devices,
and the operators of 3G networks, by allowing people to have their internet access in places
where they have become accustomed to having internet access.

See Opensecrets.org on Lamar Smith, for how much the telecommunications industry loves him.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:18 PM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please indicate evidence of this absence of outrage.

Don't hold your breath for that one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 PM on February 22, 2009


Please indicate evidence of this absence of outrage.

You can read this thread without my help. Or you can join Blazecock Pileon and make pedophilia jokes.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:38 PM on February 22, 2009


Can't I do both?

Fuck the Police! Sting's been a boring, humorless fuck for decades now!

Er, wait.

"You think you're scared? I have to walk out of here alone!"
posted by Pronoiac at 3:45 PM on February 22, 2009


Wait, wait... the "quoted text" I had above was fictitious. I intentionally worded a law-like quote against MAC spoofing, in such a way that it would outlaw ifconfig. You know, poking fun at the prototypical stupidity of congress with its overreaching laws.

I was trying be funny.

I apologize to those who thought I was quoting something real... I kinda figured that my lack of link was indication enough.
posted by Netzapper at 3:48 PM on February 22, 2009


I think you'll find plenty of examples of shameless pandering on BOTH sides of the aisle.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:22 PM on February 22, 2009


You can read this thread without my help.

Uh oh. Apparently we have touched the nerve of a once-Young Republican. Just say no, Krrrrrrrlson.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:13 PM on February 22, 2009


It shall be a class B felony for a user to change, modify, falsify, or remove any identification number associated with a computer network interface.

Yeah, that will scare terrorists and pedophiles straight, no way they will try to hide their illegal activities if it is illegal to do so.

Plus, its not like they could buy a used wireless card for cash and chuck it in the trash every now and again.
posted by jester69 at 5:54 AM on February 23, 2009


Oops, ignore my quote of a spoof. My comments on the futility of MAC based snooping stand.
posted by jester69 at 5:57 AM on February 23, 2009


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