Jim Kouri
Congressmen seek law to help investigate Internet kiddie porn
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By Jim Kouri
March 21, 2011

This week, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives continued the government's infatuation with controlling the Internet by using the frequently used rationale "we're doing it for the children."

Democrat and Republican lawmakers are busily creating a House bill that will mandate Internet service providers to keep computer records — including identification information — of users to be used by federal law enforcement agencies during their child pornography investigations,

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if the bill is passed in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, it will help FBI agents investigating child-pornography cases.

While proponents of the bill claim there is bipartisan support for such a law, opponents say it is an attempt by big government politicians to "backdoor their way to controlling the Internet and those who use it," said political strategist Mike Baker.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is expected to introduce a draft of the bill in April. He stated that his legislation will require Internet service firms to maintain records of users' Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses for a mandatory period of at least 24 months.

Child protection organizations and some law enforcement executives groups applaud the effort to help identify suspects. However, civil-rights proponents such as the American Civil Liberties Union claim such a measure would infringe on citizens' right to privacy and create a cyber Big Brother culture on the worldwide web.

FBI officials have repeatedly complained that agents are unable to successfully investigate numerous child porn cases due to secrecy of Internet-user records, which could help federal law enforcement with identifying the user and providing information on suspects. Rep. Smith claims that his bill address the privacy issues and will not infringe on the rights of law-abiding Internet users.

Currently there are few, if any, standards for how long Internet providers keep user information. The longest a service provider maintains user information is six months. Eventually, user information including online activity is completely and permanently deleted.

In a press statement, the ACLU used "the chilling effect" argument to voice its opposition to such a law. The civil-liberties organization argues that part of the appeal of Internet use is its anonymity. ACLU attorneys said the proposed law targets First Amendment freedom of expression.

During his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, Director of the FBI Robert Mueller said that allowing his agents an opportunity to review Internet users' information will not invade the privacy of those users.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a strong supporter of Smith's proposed legislation. The organization aids federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and departments with an enormous number of abused and abducted children cases.

"There are already laws that allow federal law enforcement agencies to compel Internet service firms to save data that pertains to a criminal investigation," said a former police detective from New York.

"As a law enforcement investigator, [Smith's] legislation would be a Godsend. As a private citizen, it would be yet another instance of government expansion of its power over Americans," said Det. Sid Franes.

Rep. Smith attempted to garner support last year for an Internet child pornography law, but it went no where because the House was in the midst of pushing through a health care bill and there was great animosity between members of the two political parties.

But this year he may succeed unless the Tea Party-supported Republican freshmen decide to oppose him based on constitutional principles. In addition, the financial cost to both government and private sector firms

may become a consideration since the new congressmen are pursuing a reduction in the size of government and government agency budgets.

Congressmen seek law to help investigate Internet kiddie porn

http://www.examiner.com/law-enforcement-in-national/congressmen-seek-law-to-help-investigate-internet-kiddie-porn

This week, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives continued the government's infatuation with controlling the Internet by using the frequently used rationale "we're doing it for the children."

Democrat and Republican lawmakers are busily creating a House bill that will mandate Internet service providers to keep computer records — including identification information — of users to be used by federal law enforcement agencies during their child pornography investigations,

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, if the bill is passed in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, it will help FBI agents investigating child-pornography cases.

While proponents of the bill claim there is bipartisan support for such a law, opponents say it is an attempt by big government politicians to "backdoor their way to controlling the Internet and those who use it," said political strategist Mike Baker.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is expected to introduce a draft of the bill in April. He stated that his legislation will require Internet service firms to maintain records of users' Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses for a mandatory period of at least 24 months.

Child protection organizations and some law enforcement executives groups applaud the effort to help identify suspects. However, civil-rights proponents such as the American Civil Liberties Union claim such a measure would infringe on citizens' right to privacy and create a cyber Big Brother culture on the worldwide web.

FBI officials have repeatedly complained that agents are unable to successfully investigate numerous child porn cases due to secrecy of Internet-user records, which could help federal law enforcement with identifying the user and providing information on suspects. Rep. Smith claims that his bill address the privacy issues and will not infringe on the rights of law-abiding Internet users.

Currently there are few, if any, standards for how long Internet providers keep user information. The longest a service provider maintains user information is six months. Eventually, user information including online activity is completely and permanently deleted.

In a press statement, the ACLU used "the chilling effect" argument to voice its opposition to such a law. The civil-liberties organization argues that part of the appeal of Internet use is its anonymity. ACLU attorneys said the proposed law targets First Amendment freedom of expression.

During his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, Director of the FBI Robert Mueller said that allowing his agents an opportunity to review Internet users' information will not invade the privacy of those users.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a strong supporter of Smith's proposed legislation. The organization aids federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and departments with an enormous number of abused and abducted children cases.

"There are already laws that allow federal law enforcement agencies to compel Internet service firms to save data that pertains to a criminal investigation," said a former police detective from New York.

"As a law enforcement investigator, [Smith's] legislation would be a Godsend. As a private citizen, it would be yet another instance of government expansion of its power over Americans," said Det. Sid Franes.

Rep. Smith attempted to garner support last year for an Internet child pornography law, but it went no where because the House was in the midst of pushing through a health care bill and there was great animosity between members of the two political parties.

But this year he may succeed unless the Tea Party-supported Republican freshmen decide to oppose him based on constitutional principles. In addition, the financial cost to both government and private sector firms may become a consideration since the new congressmen are pursuing a reduction in the size of government and government agency budgets.

© Jim Kouri

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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